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Mayor Adams delivers remarks at annual memorial service for Flight 587 victims in Rockaway Park

Nov. 13, 2023 By Bill Parry

Mayor Eric Adams delivered remarks at the annual memorial service for the victims of American Airlines Flight 587 in Rockaway Park on Sunday, Nov. 12, where he also spoke publicly for the first time regarding the federal ethics probe targeting him.

Adams comforted families who lost loved ones in the tragic crash 22 years earlier.

The American Airlines Airbus A300 took off from John F. Kennedy Airport on the morning of Nov. 12, 2001, with 260 people on board heading to the Dominican Republic. However, the plane crashed into Belle Harbor just three minutes after takeoff, killing five more victims on the ground.

“On behalf of 8.3 million New Yorkers, my presence here today is to symbolize how much we stand with you during this moment of reflection,” Adams said. “And although words cannot take away your pain, although words will not bring back your nieces, your nephews, your uncles, your mothers, your sisters, your brothers, although words will not bring back the memories that you are losing because of during this season of Thanksgiving, you feel as though you were robbed of the ability to spend many more memorable moments with them.”

Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

The gathering was held at the Flight 587 Memorial near the Rockaway Boardwalk at Beach 116th Street, where bells rang at 9:16 a.m. to mark the moment of impact just two months after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center. Investigators would later determine a broken rudder was to blame after the pilot hit the wake turbulence of a preceding jet and lost control of the aircraft.

Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

Adams recalled being a police officer at the time, watching emergency vehicles racing toward Belle Harbor where smoke hung over the Rockaways.

“9/11 was fresh on our minds. So many things went through our heads hoping that this was not another level of devastation or terrorism,” Adams said. “But even though it was not terrorism, it still brought us terror. And I know that many of you, wondering were your loved ones on the flight going to Santo Domingo, you held your breath hoping that you would not hear the names, hoping that your names will not join the list of names that were read today, hoping it was not true, only to find out it was.”

Photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Office

Adams closed out his remarks speaking of the significance of the Dominican diaspora in New York City.

“Close to a million New Yorkers are of Dominican descent,” Adams said. “You are an important community to this city and your contributions, and this is a great loss that we’re all feeling, but together we will get through this.”

Adams departed before the memorial service was over and he spoke with a few reporters on the way to his SUV about the FBI seizing two of his cell phones and an iPad as part of their investigation into his campaign fundraising.

“What I am really hoping is that these periodic leaks stop,” Adams said. “We’re cooperating. We need to do this together so all the facts can come out.”

He added that it was neither the time nor the place for such a discussion.

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