MURRAY HILL — Dozens of friends and relatives packed into a Queens church Saturday to bid farewell to a 30-year-old man killed during Hurricane Sandy.
Broken-hearted loved ones streamed into St. Andrew Avellino Roman Church Church on 158th Street to say good-bye to Anthony Laino, who died when a fallen tree crashed into his Kissena Park home Monday evening.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't get to you and save you," said brother Nicholas Laino at the funeral. "I wish it was me and not you."
One of the first victims of Hurricane Sandy, Anthony Laino — who was affectionately known as Tony — was in his bedroom at 166th Street Monday when about 7 p.m. the storm's winds reached 80 miles per hour. The dangerous gusts ripped a tree from its roots and sent it crashing into his room.
By the time authorities reached Laino's home, he had already died, police said.
In a tragic twist, loved ones said Laino was planning to leave the house but decided to take a nap instead because he wasn't feeling well. He wanted to be close to family during the storm, too, relatives added.
"He was supposed to go out that night," said John Esposito, a longtime friend of Laino. "But he just wanted to do the right thing and be home with his family."
Beyond the heartache, Laino's other, Nicholas, remembered Tony, who was enrolled as a graduate student at St. John's University, as a "gifted athlete" who "feared nothing." Nicholas appreciated Tony's unapologetic honesty, too.
"I will always remember my brother for his muscle-flexing," Nicholas Laino said. "But what he didn't realize his biggest muscle was his heart."
At the funeral, Father Joseph Holcomb urged mourners to be remember Laino for his strength.
"This loss leaves many with heavy hearts," Holcomb said at the funeral. "Tony was the victim of a violent tragedy that has devastated his family. It's important that we remain strong for them."
After the service, six pall bearers — including brothers Bobby and Nicholas — carried a brown casket, draped in white tapestry, out of the St. Andrew Avellino.