New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has been criticised for showing “disrespect” after he turned up late to a memorial service for the victims of American Airlines Flight 587.
De Blasio, who won a hotly contested Democratic primary in September, blamed his tardiness on a “very rough night”.
According to the New York Times, the Mayor had been scheduled to speak at 9.05am on Wednesday in Rockaway Park, Queens, which is near to where the plane crashed on 12 November 2001, killing all 260 people on board, as well as five others on the ground.
But De Blasio instead arrived just after 9.20am, his office said. They said that the police boat he had been travelling in was “delayed due to heavy fog” and that the estimated 35 minute journey had instead taken 50 minutes.
However, in a news conference later that day, De Blasio said: "I was not feeling well this morning; I had a very rough night, I woke up sluggish, and I should have gotten myself moving quicker.”
He added that he “woke up in the middle of the night, couldn’t get back to sleep” – and that the fog had been an “unexpected” factor in his plans.
Relatives of the dead were angered by the delay – especially as the Mayor also missed the tolling of a bell at 9.16 am to mark the time of the disaster.
Robustiano Reyes, 56, whose brother lost his life in the tragedy, said De Blasio had shown “disrespect” and criticised him for not apologising at the memorial itself.
The Mayor reportedly did take the time to say sorry to a woman named Belkis Lora, the president of the Committee in Memory of Flight 587.
De Blasio has garnered a reputation for turning up late, with numerous reports since he entered office criticising him for keeping members of the public and the press waiting.
Flight 587 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight from John F Kennedy International Airport to Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport in the Dominican Republic. It crashed shortly after take-off.
The disaster was attributed to the first officer's overuse of rudder controls in response to turbulence created by a Japan Airlines Boeing 747-400 that had taken off just moments before.Reuse content