WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Mourners poured into a Washington Heights funeral home to remember Nicholas Figueroa, a 23-year-old Eagle Scout who was described as the "foundation" of his family.
Nearly 80 friends and family members packed R.G. Funeral Homes Inc. at 4425 Broadway on Monday afternoon for the wake for Figueroa, one of two men who died in the East Village gas explosion.
His younger brother, Neal Figueroa, said that his family will never be the same without him.
"There's truly just no words to describe who my brother was, I mean, he was the foundation of our family," he said. "Our house will never work the same without my brother."
Aside from family and friends, around 20 Boy Scouts from Troop 735 paid their respects to Figueroa, who was promoted to Eagle Scout in 2008. A copy of the program from his Eagle Scout ceremony was taped to the door of the funeral home and the inside was decorated with pictures of Figueroa smiling with friends.
Banners that read "RIP Nicholas, Forever Loved!" and floral arrangements flanked the open casket for Figueroa as his family gathered and hugged the visitors inside.
Figueroa, who lived in Harlem, was on a date at Sushi Park, a restaurant at 121 Second Ave., when the explosion ripped through the building on March 26. His body was removed from the rubble several days later along with Moises Ismael Locon Yac, 26, a worker at the eatery, officials said.
"He had all the love for everybody," his father, Nixon Figueroa said. "Everywhere he goes he gave a good smile, he brought life into people. He was a caring kid."
At one point during the wake, Neal Figueroa stopped in front of his brother's casket as family members rubbed his back.
"For the most part everybody's just being strong," Neal Figueroa said about how his family's dealing with the loss.
His family created a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay for his memorial service and burial, which had raised more than $27,000 as of Monday.
The gas explosion injured 22 people and left 130 displaced, officials said.
A funeral for Figueroa will be held on Tuesday in the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, 207 W. 96th St., at 10 a.m.