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De Blasio Was 30 Minutes Late for Boat to Flight 587 Ceremony, Sources Say

By Murray Weiss | November 17, 2014 7:34am
 Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed "a rough night" for his tardiness to Wednesday's memorial ceremony for the victims of Flight 587.
Mayor Bill de Blasio blamed "a rough night" for his tardiness to Wednesday's memorial ceremony for the victims of Flight 587.
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

MANHATTAN — Mayor Bill de Blasio turned up 30 minutes late for an NYPD boat waiting to take him from Gracie Mansion to the Rockaways for last week's solemn ceremony to remember the victims of Flight 587, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The mayor was scheduled to embark at 8:05 a.m. Wednesday and the boat had been in place for half-an-hour before that, sources said. But he didn't get to the boat until 8:35 a.m.

De Blasio's press aides initially blamed the delay on "heavy fog," which they said made the normally 35-minute trip take 50 minutes.

But sources said the fog had virtually no impact on the trip.

"The fog played a minimal, if any, role," a law enforcement source said.

The mayor's aides also declined last week to say when the mayor's boat was scheduled to leave a pier near Gracie Mansion for the ceremony. It later docked at Riis Landing and the mayor had to be driven by his advance team the remaining 3 miles to the memorial site, as DNAinfo New York reported Friday. 

De Blasio was scheduled to address the grieving families at 9:05 a.m. and remain through the moment of silence and bell ringing at 9:16 a.m that memorializes the exact time that Flight 587 went down in 2001.

But the mayor, who is habitually late, missed that poignant section of the ceremony, not arriving until after 9:20 a.m.

Top mayoral aides immediately blamed the weather, but de Blasio eventually acknowledged last Wednesday that he had had a “rough night” and felt “really sluggish” in the morning. He said he should have gotten himself moving sooner.

He apologized to victims' families but never completely dismissed the fog as a factor. His press aides still insist that fog played a role in the delay.

"Mayor de Blasio traveled to the ceremony by boat Wednesday morning. He departed Gracie Mansion late and the boat was delayed due to heavy fog," a mayoral spokesperson said on Sunday.

Sources say the mayor's travel was carefully planned by his NYPD Intelligence Division team. They had decided that a water route was better than navigating rush-hour traffic.

And even with a threat of fog, the NYPD was not worried because their boats recently underwent millions of dollars worth of state-of-the-art radar and Global Position System upgrades capable of navigating “through pea soup,” one source said.

In addition to blaming the fog, mayoral aides also said there had been confusion initially at Gracie Mansion over where the boat was docked — an assertion disputed by the sources.

Since last Wednesday, the mayor has arrived early to public events.