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Tardy Mayor Docked Boat Three Miles from Flt. 587 Crash Memorial

By Katie Honan | November 14, 2014 6:23pm
 Mayor de Blasio and his team docked their NYPD boat at Riis Landing, nearly three miles from the memorial for Flight 587 on Beach 116th Street.
Mayor de Blasio and his team docked their NYPD boat at Riis Landing, nearly three miles from the memorial for Flight 587 on Beach 116th Street.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

QUEENS — The NYPD boat that shuttled Mayor Bill de Blasio from Manhattan to Rockaway for the Flight 587 memorial docked three miles from the event, adding to the delay that caused the frequently-late mayor to miss a moment of silence Wednesday for the victims.

And the mayor's team said that the decision to take a boat was made "well before" the event, despite the fact that a warning about thick fog was issued the night before.

De Blasio at first blamed his lateness for the memorial on his boat being stuck in the fog but later admitted that he had a “rough night” and felt “really sluggish” in the morning.

While the mayor’s press team refused to say where the boat docked, DNAinfo New York learned they got off at at Riis Landing, which is three miles from the memorial, said a U.S. Parks Police spokesman.

 The mayor arrived ten minutes after the bell rang to remember the moment Flight 587 crashed on Nov. 12, 2001
Family Members Upset by Mayor's Lateness to Plane Crash Memorial
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Riis Landing, next to the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, is an eight minute drive to the Beach 116th memorial for Flight 587, according to a DNAinfo analysis. 

Construction workers based at Riis Landing who declined to give their names said they saw the mayor get off the boat where he was met by two black SUVs and one NYPD cruiser.

Mayoral spokeswoman Marti Adams said the decision to take a boat was “not made that morning” but would not say if a weather service warning about the fog was taken into consideration or another method of transportation was considered.

She would not confirm where the boat docked, and referred all inquiries to the NYPD, which handles the mayor’s transportation.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We’ve been very clear that it was determined that a boat is a much faster form of transportation compared to the morning traffic in the roadways,” Adams said.

The mayor’s office said the boat trip usually takes 35 minutes but due to the fog, ended up taking nearly an hour. It was not clear how long a ride by car would take.

“It’s faster, right," she said. "It is faster to take a boat than to drive so that decision was made well before Wednesday morning.”

The mayor, though, traveled by car during his two previous trips to the peninsula, including a visit to a Hurricane Sandy-related job fair on Oct. 15, Adams said. 

"For this specific event, the police boat was deemed to be faster than driving in morning rush hour traffic," she said.

De Blasio’s lateness angered family members who have flocked annually to the beachside memorial, nearly a mile from the crash site, since it was dedicated in 2006.

Miriam Estrella, who lost five family members in the crash, got up and told the audience in Spanish she was going to start the ceremony without the mayor.

She and another mourner rang the bell marking the time of the crash at 9:16 a.m.

In addition to the mayor’s tardiness, the service didn’t have enough chairs for mourners, lacked wreaths and the Dominican flag was not on display, which upset the mourners, who were mostly Dominican.