Hapeville GA July 9 2011 A tropical holiday weekend vacation ended tragically for a Hapeville family.
Edmund Diorio, his wife Sonia Torregrosa-Diorio, their grandchild Rosarito Villa Gomez, 19, and Sonia’s brother Antonio Torregrosa Sanchez, 68, are all presumed dead after the small prop plane they were flying in last Friday disappeared in a storm off the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. The body of 13-year-old grandchild Mario Villa Gomez Jr., who also was aboard the plane, already has been found.
“She was an angel,” Torregrosa-Diorio’s niece, Rose Rivera, said Friday of the 68-year-old woman.
Likewise, Edmund “Ed” Diorio’s boss remembered the 58-year-old sanitation worker fondly.
“He was a steady rock,” said Lee Suddeth, the community services director for the City of Hapeville. “If something ever went wrong, you knew not to look his way.”
A rescue mission for the passengers of the Cessna single-engine plane took a grave turn Monday when searchers found Mario’s body floating near the harbor of Yabacoa, Puerto Rican Emergency Management spokeswoman Melina Simeonides told the AJC.
“We don’t have track of any other person, so maybe they are [still] inside the plane,” Simeonides said.
The Diorios and their grandchildren traveled to Sonia Diorio’s native town of Salinas, on the southern shore of Puerto Rico, to visit with Sanchez and other family members for a two-week vacation.
On July 1, as the vacation was winding down, Sanchez, a life-long pilot, flew the five to the island of Culebra, east of the city of Yabucoa for a daylong trip, Rivera told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“But by the end of the day, no one had heard anything from them,” she said, noting that it wasn’t until Saturday that family back in Georgia became worried. “It wasn’t uncommon for them to extend a trip.”
Rivera’s cousin Sonia Villa Gomez, the children’s mother and Sonia Diorio’s daughter, began calling around for them, and eventually notified Puerto Rican authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday.
“Her world came tumbling down,” Rivera said of her cousin. “She lost both her children, her mother, her step-father and her uncle.”
In Hapeville, city workers and neighbors remained poised to help where they could. As Rivera checked the mail at her aunt and uncle’s home Friday afternoon, a city sanitation truck drove by and the driver stopped to ask if she needed anything.
“No, I’m OK,” Rivera said.
And the dependable Diorio was an uncommon, but noticeable, absence from his second job as a security officer.
“They couldn’t believe he would just miss work,” said Suddeth, who delivered the news to Diorio’s supervisors at the night job.
Suddeth said they will await Villa Gomez’s return to Georgia before they try to reach out.
“Whatever they need,” he said.
Torregrosa-Diorio was a nurse who, with her husband, had adopted eight homeless Chihuahuas that family members had to find new homes.
And Diorio’s co-worker Lemuel Eubanks said he would miss the bond they shared over brake times watching documentaries on the History Channel.
“It’s funny … he was Italian, and loved watching documentaries about the Italian mafia,” Eubanks said. “It’s a shocker to come back from vacation and hear that Ed’s gone.”
Rivera lamented that Rosarito and Mario Jr. were lost at such young ages, as those searching extended their wishes.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of the aircraft passengers,” Capt. Marc Stegman, acting commander of the Coast Guard’s Sector San Juan, said in a statement.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the plane crash.
“There was bad weather [on Friday],” Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told the AJC. “But it’s not clear if that is what caused the plane to go down.”
Coast Guard Cutter Key Biscayne and response boats from the San Juan boat station have continued to search, along with local authorities and Puerto Rican Emergency Management. The Federal Aviation Administration tracked the plane’s radar history to its last point of contact, approximately a mile off the Yabacoa coast.
Still, Simeonides said searchers are stymied a week after the plane went missing.
“They haven’t found any wreckage or debris,” she said.
Suddeth and Rivera, who also lives in Hapeville, agree that the passengers will be missed by more than just the family.
“To us, it’s a huge loss,” Rivera said. “But to the city it’s big, too. They knew a lot of people.”
Source:Atlanta Journal Courier