Porter at Tribeca Tower, Hit by Car, Is Missed by Many

November 4, 2006

news4In the early hours of Oct. 14, while most of the residents of Tribeca Tower were sleeping, a tireless friend of the building stepped into the night and never returned.

Ernesto Torres, 48, a veteran porter at 105 Duane St., left for a cup of coffee during his 3 a.m. break and was killed minutes later-struck down by a car while crossing Church Street at Duane Street. There was no arrest and the accident is still under investigation, police said.

Jonathan Davidoff, a resident in the building, said he knew right away that “something was wrong” when he stepped into the lobby that morning and saw the grim faces of the building’s staff.

“They were completely devastated,” he recalls. “Ernesto had been there since day one. This is a horrible thing. A really big loss.”

Another maintenance worker, Carlos Correa, said he had spoken to his friend at length just hours before the accident during the staff’s shift change. “He finally said, ‘Carlos, see you tomorrow,'” Correa recalled. “‘We have to leave something else to talk about.'”

Known as a “tireless” worker by his supervisor, Torres was also known by residents for his easy smile and willingness to listen and lend a hand.

It was not uncommon for residents to spend hours in the lobby late at night chatting with the staff-particularly Torres, who most in the building affectionately called ‘Nesto.’

“Our lives crossed in the lobby,” said resident Russ Schulman. “But the relationships were very deep.”

Torres had worked in the building 11 years, as long as it has been open.

“I always tell people it’s the best building in New York City to live in and what makes the building is the staff,” said Davidoff. “Ernesto made it a better place to live. It’s not going to be the same without him.”

Torres leaves behind his wife, Alicia, and three children, 22, 15 and three-months old.

“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Alicia Torres said, seated in the living room of the family’s East 108th Street home. “I realized the other day that every time I was going to pick up the baby I was crying. I know she could sense that something was wrong. I had to stop doing that. I have to be strong for my children.”

She said she still has few details about the accident. “They only tell me they are still investigating,” she said.

“I’m having trouble erasing it from my mind,” said Charlie Burgos, an overnight maintenance worker at 199 Church St. who phoned police after he saw an SUV with New Jersey plates hit Torres. The driver did not stop.

“I never saw brake lights,” he said.

Cab drivers tracked the driver by the trail of water leaked from the damaged radiator. They cornered the stalled jeep on Worth Street, he said.

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