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Plane Crash Victims’ Families Gather

November 14, 2001

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Many clutched photographs, some fought back tears, all searched for answers.

Hundreds of relatives of those killed in the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 came Tuesday to the Javits Convention Center to receive counseling, encouragement and support.

The facility is just a few blocks away from a similar center established for relatives of those killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Eduardo Paradis said his brother, Angel, was among the 260 people aboard the flight that crashed Monday just minutes after takeoff from Kennedy Airport en route to the Dominican Republic.

After working in the United States for 32 years, Angel Paradis was ``on his way there to retire ... it was just bad luck for him to be there,″ Eduardo Paradis said.

``I hope to God that this was an accident and not an act of terrorism,″ Angel Paradis’ son Elio said.

Guillermina Roy wiped away tears as she waited to go inside.

Her mother, Digna Roy, a former New Yorker who moved to Santo Domingo, had been on the plane.

``I still don’t know if they found her body,″ she said. ``I hope today I can find out some information.″

Inside the massive convention center, black curtains created private spaces in a large, green-carpeted room set up with tables and folding chairs.

In addition to grief counseling and spiritual help, a child care center was being set up for the families.

Fausto Jerez, whose sister Yasmil was on the plane, said he was pleased with the information being provided by American Airlines. ``They called twice, once to tell us that the body was recovered,″ he said.

Felix Sanchez said his brother, Leon Sanchez, worked in the personal finance department of Merrill Lynch and was traveling to the Dominican Republic to advise a number of baseball players on their finances.

Sanchez gave high marks to both the airline and the counselors at the Javits Center. ``They were very professional, very friendly, they helped 100 percent,″ he said.

City officials said it has not yet been determined how long the family center would remain open.

___

Associated Press Writer Katherine Roth contributed to this story.

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