November 2001 Crash Killed 265 People near Queens, New York
MIAMI (June 30, 2003) – On Friday, June 27, 2003, Hipolito Mejia, president of the Dominican Republic and other dignitaries was on hand to inaugurate a memorial plaza in Bani, D.R., dedicated to the passengers, crew members and five people killed on the ground when the plane’s vertical stabilizer and rudder fell off the aircraft causing it to crash and burn, just 2 minutes and 34 seconds after take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on November 12, 2001. Over 50 of the 265 people killed in the second deadliest aviation accident in United States history were traveling to Bani, a small city in the Dominican Republic about an hour from the capital, Santo Domingo.
The memorial plaza was the brainchild of New York native Hector Algarroba, whose parents, Hipolito and Ubencia, were returning to their native land to help needy children as part of a foundation created by their family for that purpose. Two trial lawyers, Mike Eidson of Colson Hicks Eidson in Miami and Carlos Silva of Silva and Silva, P.A. also in Miami, represent the Algarrobas and other victims of the air crash, and paid for the construction of the monument out of their own pockets, working together with the Algarroba’s charitable foundation.
The HHS Foundation, established by the Algarroba family, provides health care, education and sports equipment to Dominican children.
Last year, Mr. Algarroba approached his attorney, Mike Eidson and discussed his idea of creating a monument in the Dominican Republic to honor, not the death, but the life, of the 265 people who had died in this accident. Intrigued by the idea, Mr. Eidson flew to New York City to meet with Hector to discuss the design of the monument and committed himself and his firm to the project. Mr. Eidson later convinced his friend, Carlos Silva, to become involved.
The town of Bani donated a beautiful piece of land in the middle of the city, located in a quiet residential neighborhood, near a school, for the memorial. The project architect, Jorge De La Rosa, from Santo Domingo, donated his services. Many others in Bani donated their time and hard work to complete the project.
The marble-clad monument stands like a sentinel in the middle of the memorial plaza, surrounded by benches, trees, and flower gardens. The individuals who died in this tragedy are represented by their names carved into the impressive monument, and by 265 tiles laid into the walk around the beautiful plaza.
“Carlos and I were pleased to help Hector, his family and the HHS Foundation bring this beautiful memorial to life. We personally arranged for the planting of mature trees to provide shade for the local school children and the visitors who we hope will gather there to study and reflect in this place of peace,” said Mr. Eidson. “I am especially impressed by the outstanding work performed by Mr. Jorge De La Rosa in designing and overseeing the construction of the park and the people of Bani who donated the land. And finally, Carlos and I would like to thank Sonia Martinez, the secretary general of the HHS Foundation, Hector and his family for their energy and vision that made this memorial possible.”