Minutes before the attack, Ariel Erlij had called his wife in Rosario to tell her he was riding a bike and was happy.

“Ariel loved American culture,” said friend Flavia Gauna, who knew of the bike conversation from Erlij’s wife, Pabla Pereyra. “He used to say that if it wasn’t for the U.S., the world would no longer exist because of these crazy (terrorists). And look what happened.”

Erlij’s wife authorized Gauna to disclose details about the victim so he would not become an anonymous terrorism victim, Gauna said.

“Right now, I’m sad,” Gauna said. “I’m sure next I’ll be filled with rage afterward. It’s a very difficult moment. It is difficult to see his wife, who is so sad, knowing how much they adored each other, and to see his children sad.”

Erlij, a 48-year-old civil engineer, founded Ivanar, a steel production company that made him the most financially successful of his old schoolmates. He was the driving force behind the trip to New York, helping to foot the bill for those who couldn’t afford it.

Erlij, who had three children, was a big soccer fan, and also was active in politics in his home city and the surrounding state as he promoted investment projects for the area.

A neighbor, Averio Ososky, described Erlij as “an entrepreneur, a working type. Of gold.”