By Mark Hallum
Veronica Chavez from Corona was one of the three victims who made it out of the Port Authority bombing alive Monday and said the experience conjured another traumatic memory: 9/11, according to a news report.
Chavez, who was pregnant at the time of the World Trade Center terrorist assault over 16 years ago, worried for her brothers who worked downtown back then and on Monday, at the time the tunnel shook, she only wished to see her children again, she told the Daily News.
“The Sept. 11 attacks are memories I can’t forget,” said Chavez before describing her experience at the Port Authority. “There was smoke everywhere and debris falling. My ears were ringing. They haven’t stopped ringing. All I kept thinking is, I want to see my children again. If something happened to me, who will care for them?”
Chavez works at a wedding dress factory and had just left the No. 7 train at 42nd Street – Times Square, she said, when Akayed Ullah, 27, allegedly set off a homemade bomb which was strapped to his torso.
The bomb, which malfunctioned, failed to kill anyone, including Ullah himself, and Chavez simply went home to be with her children, she told the News.
Ullah is a Bangladeshi immigrant from Brooklyn.
Her 16-year-old son, Alex Chavez, was born the day after the 9/11 attack, she said.
“I’m really happy she’s home. Yesterday I was thinking, I just hope she gets home,” Alex Chavez said. “When I saw her come through the door, I gave her a big, big hug. She was alive.”
MTA workers help Chavez evacuate the tunnel and she met with her Alfonso Chavez, 42, and Juan Chavez, 40, on 40th Street, the News reported. The helped her to Mount Sinai West.
“My ears are still throbbing. I can’t sleep. My head hurts,” Chavez said. “I’m still not OK.”
President Donald Trump used the opportunity to strike out against immigration and promote the travel ban he issued by executive order barring emigres from eight predominantly Muslim nations.
“Today’s attempted mass murder attack in New York City — the second terror attack in New York in the last two months — once again highlights the urgent need for Congress to enact legislative reforms to protect the American people,” Trump said, calling for an end to chain migration, which gives preference to people with family already in the country. “First and foremost, as I have been saying since I first announced my candidacy for president, America must fix its lax immigration system, which allows far too many dangerous, inadequately vetted people to access our country.”
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) urged support for the Bangladeshi community to condemn the terror attack and to create a clear distinction between the Muslim community and terrorists like Ullah.
“I stand with my Bangladeshi colleagues in condemning this horrific act of violence,” Dromm said. “Akayed Ullah is an extremist. He does not represent the Bangladeshi community or the Muslim community, who soundly reject his hate. We gather together to proclaim with one voice that we will not cower from or be divided by such despicable acts.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall