NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Friends and family said goodbye Wednesday to three of the eight victims killed in last week’s massive explosion in East Harlem.
A funeral was held at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church on East 117th Street for 44-year-old George Amadeo. Relatives helped his grieving wife Irene, emotional and unable to hold back tears, as she walked into the church.
“I think she’s in shock because when things like that happen, you go through the motions but you’re not really feeling,” said family friend Denise Seme.
Family and friends fondly remember “Georgie,” as they called him, as an extraordinary father and a dedicated husband who was humble and generous.
He was also an animal lover, especially to his Cocker Spaniel Blackie, who also perished in last Wednesday’s explosion.
“He’s the kind of person who always brings up the groceries for the elderly, picking up the stroller, taking it upstairs” said friend Joan McCoy. “He’s the kind of person who’s always there.”
“We’re just all in shock given how George left us,” said friend Marquita Marti.
Also Wednesday, a wake was being at the Ortiz Funeral Home, two blocks from the blast site, for 43-year-old Rosaura Barrios-Vazquez, and her 21-year-old daughter, Rosaura.
The daughter’s dream was to be a chef, and was on her way, working at the posh Triomphe Restaurant, her longtime friend Biance Rivera said.
“She wanted to be a chef. If you tasted her meals they were fabulous,” she told CBS 2’s Steve Langford.
“It’s hard to understand,” Rivera said. “It’s hard to believe that she’s so young and that she’s gone.”
Cecilio Hernandez, who immigrated from Mexico more than 20 years ago for a better life, will return there to bury his wife and daughter. His 15-year-old son was also badly injured.
Hernandez was too distraught to speak to reporters Wednesday.
The sudden explosion last Wednesday rocked East Harlem just after 9:30 a.m., about 15 minutes after someone reported smelling gas in a neighboring building, authorities said.
The blast brought down two, five-story buildings that housed a church, a piano store and more than a dozen apartments and hurled bricks, glass and other debris across the neighborhood.
Also killed were Griselde Camacho, Carmen Tanco, Andreas Panagopoulos, Jordy Salas and Mayumi Nakamura.
The explosion also left more than 60 people injured and displaced more than 100 others.
The National Transportation Safety Board now says a gas leak was to blame and has identified an 8-inch cast iron pipe as the source.
Workers from the NTSB and Con Edison are excavating the entire pipe, cutting it into pieces and sending them to a lab in Washington D.C. for further analysis.
They’re also sending camera scopes deep into the water and sewer pipes at the scene looking for more evidence.
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