Families, community mark one year since deadly East Village gas explosion

ByDiana Rocco via WABC logo
Sunday, March 27, 2016
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Diana Rocco has more from the East Village.

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Saturday marked a solemn anniversary in the East Village.

A year ago, a gas explosion there killed two people. Family and community members came together to remember the victims.

The site of the explosion is now leveled, and a memorial now stands there.

The families held a vigil Saturday night, and are working to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Nick Figueroa's mother relives the smoke-filled images of the 2nd Avenue building collapse every day. It's been a year since her 23-year-old son went on a lunch date at the first floor sushi restaurant when a gas line exploded and the building collapsed.

"I just hope that later on in the future, nothing like this will happen to nobody," says Nick's father, Nixon, "My son was full of life, I lived through his eyes, through him, because he was so adventurous, so loving, so caring."

A 26 year old restaurant employee, Moises Locon, was also killed. As the community and family remembers, Nick's father will present Moises' family with a piece of the fire escape later given by the fire department.

Dozens were left homeless when three buildings came down. It was days before many could return home, if at all.

"I realized everything - everything was gone," said Mildred Guy.

Guy spend 44 years on the 4th floor of the building where the explosion happened.

"I lost everything, all family memorabilia, memories, my grandmother's stuff, my mother's stuff. I am angry this took place. Shouldn't have happened," Guy adds.

The building owner and three others are now facing manslaughter charges for an illegal gas line hidden from Con-Ed inspectors, in an alleged scheme to raise rents. Moments after inspectors left the building, the line was restored, causing the blast. Now legislation is being introduced to city council, seeking go after negligent landlords.

The building's landlord is expected back in court later this week.