As It Happens

[Updated] Toronto bride married by fire dept chaplain after NYC crane collapse

A day they'll never forget. A Toronto bride is married by the New York Fire Department chaplain after a crane collapse in Manhattan. One person was killed and three were injured in the crash.
Bride-to-be Nesh Pillay, 25, is assisted by a New York City firefighter after a crane collapsed near the beauty salon where she was having her hair done in downtown Manhattan. (Gina Cherelus/Reuters)


Bride-to-be Nesh Pillay was getting her hair done with her family when her sister felt the ground shake. Just outside the salon, a construction crane came crashing down. As Pillay tells As It Happens guest host Tom Harrington, "It happened right outside the door." 

This construction crane collapsed Friday morning in Manhattan, crushing several vehicles/ (NBC News)

On Feb. 5, a large construction crane collapsed in Manhattan's Tribeca neighbourhood, killing a pedestrian and crushing several cars. Three other people were injured. The cause of the collapse is under investigation, but high winds are believed to be a factor.

Soon after the collapse, Pillay wanted to get to her husband-to-be, Aaron Vanderhoff, as quickly as possible, but the street was blocked off by police: "It was chaotic." A chaplain with New York's fire department was on the scene, saw Pillay in her wedding dress, and rushed over to help her: "She held my hand and helped me walk to where he was." 

Emergency crews survey a massive construction crane collapse on a street in downtown Manhattan in New York, February 5, 2016. The accident killed at least one person and seriously injuring two others, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Once the chaplain had reunited the pair, she offered to officiate their wedding. "We stood on the steps of what I think was the Department of Education building, and she married us," says Pillay. As Vanderhoff tells Tom Harrington, "she was kind of our knight in shining armour." 

Vanderhoff was grateful for the gesture. But he also says he'll always remember the day's sombre tone, and the shock of the crane collapse.

"Obviously we can't help feeling bad for all the folks that were involved and, obviously, our prayers and everything go out to them."

Pillay lives in Toronto but she travelled to New York City for the big day.

"I was just happy we were able to get married. It was definitely special." 

To hear their story take a listen to the full interview. As It Happens spoke with the bride and groom on their taxi ride through Brooklyn.


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