Queens Man's Storm Death Leaves Family Devastated
Among those killed as Sandy tore through the city was a 30-year-old man who died inside his home in Flushing, Queens where grieving relatives gathered Tuesday. NY1's Rosemary Shultz filed the following report.
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It was a scene of devastation in Flushing on Tuesday as Tony Laino's family begins the process of clearing out his belongings. The 30-year-old died Monday night when a tree crashed into the upper level of his home on 166th Street.
"The brother called up my daughter and it was like, not real, you know? It's not real. When we got here it was on the news and it took them six, seven hours to get his body out," said Ralph Valente, the father of Laino's fiance.
Laino was at home with his parents and brother when the tree came down around 7 p.m. His fiance's father says Laino was killed instantly and that no one else inside the home was injured.
"He was in his room reading a book or sleeping and the tree just came down and killed him," Valente said.
"How do you deal with such a cataclysmic happening? He was a wonderful young man. There's no explanation for something like this, you have to have faith," said Heather Valente, the mother of Laino's fiance.
Flushing resident Tabitha Kim has lived across the street from the family for two years. She says her father tried to offer Laino's mother a coat, but she refused.
"She didn't want it because she wanted to be cold with him. So she didn't take the coat," Kim said.
Valente and another neighbor tell NY1 the family and residents in the area have had longtime concerns about the trees on the block and others in the neighborhood, saying it was just a matter of time before someone got hurt.
"They tried to get this tree down for 25 years. They've been calling and calling and calling the city obviously did nothing about it and this is what happened," said Ralph Valente.
"Somebody has to die before they take any action. There are so many trees in this neighborhood. If you look here, you look around, the sidewalks they're not even," said Nick Karapasas, Laino's neighbor.
The city Department of Buildings was on the scene Tuesday surveying the damage.
As for the family, Valente says they have no plans to return to the home.