NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Ten years ago on Saturday, Isabella Gutierrez lost three family members who were heading to the Dominican Republic for a weeklong vacation.
“They were great sisters. They went everywhere together. They loved their grandchildren. They were like three angels. That’s what they were,” she said.
The three were among the 260 people killed that day in an aviation accident when American Airlines Flight 587 crashed in the Belle Harbor neighborhood in the Rockaway section of Queens.
“It’s 10 years, but it feels like it was yesterday,” Gutierrez said.
Family members mourned for their lost loved ones on Saturday morning at a memorial marking the 10th anniversary of the flight’s crash.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reports on the memorial
Saturday’s ceremony echoed the ones held annually at ground zero.
At 9:15 a.m., a bell tolled and there was a moment of silence to mark the moment the plane went down. The name of each victim was read by tearful relatives.
The crash hit hardest in the city’s Dominican community. Flight 587 was bound for the Dominican Republic.
Parts of Saturday’s ceremony were conducted in Spanish, including a reading of a poem by Dominican writer Pedro Mir.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke at the memorial, reflecting on the terrible day.
“Over the past 10 years, your shared strength has transformed grief into hope and promise,” Bloomberg said.
Ramon Rodriguez lost his mom and found out about the accident at work that day.
“I was driving home and I stopped because I couldn’t drive. I realized my mother was gone,” Rodriguez said. “She was a loving person and she always helped everybody.”
Just two months after the World Trade Center attacks, many feared the disaster was another terror attack, but investigators found that pilot error was the cause. Wake turbulence from another airliner had sparked the accident.
Former Mayor Rudy Guiliani said at the time that they would do everything they could to help the victims as the investigation continued.
“We’ll do everything we can to help these people, and the President is on top of it,” he said. “They’re watching everything all over the country so I think people should remain absolutely calm.”
Every name will be read aloud in a 45-minute ceremony Flight 587 Permanent Memorial in Rockaway Park.
The disaster remains the second deadliest aviation accident on U.S. soil.
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