devastating | 

Irishman living in New York tells how employee died after getting lost in blizzard

‘We think she was on the way to the grocery store to buy supplies and she got lost in the snow’

Electricity workers work to resupply power to homes in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Joseph Cooke/The Buffalo News via AP© AP

Mike Gippon ploughs snow in the driveway outside his home in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Joseph Cooke/The Buffalo News via AP© AP

Laura LynottIndependent.ie

An Irishman living in Buffalo, New York, said told how one of his employees died after apparently getting lost in the blizzard which engulfed the city over Christmas.

Conor Hawkins, from Belfast, revealed he had received the “devastating” news that one of his employees had been found dead after trying to make her way to a grocery store during the snowstorm.

Mr Hawkins, who runs The Banshee pub with partners Neil Dargan from Foxrock and Kevin Coogan, from Leopardstown, Dublin, told how Monique Alexander, a housekeeper in her 50s at his five-star Curtiss Hotel, died in the worst weather he had ever witnessed.

“We were notified on Christmas morning that Monique had died,” he said.

“We think she was on the way to the grocery store to buy supplies and she got lost in the snow.

“The storm was too much. It’s devastating, tough. A lot of people were found in the snow. It’s hard to contemplate.”

Mr Hawins said Mr Dargan and Mr Coogan had been snowed in at home. But he has been taking photographs of the snow around the pub and hotel.

“We had been looking forward to Stephen’s Day, as we are a big football and soccer bar,” he said.

“I was staying in the hotel just down the street for the whole five days. It’s been really, really bad. I just got home today.

“There are cars on the road, snow banks are really high and a lot of people have lost heat.

“We had a lot of people at the hotel who’ve not been able to get out, they’ve had to stay there. I am reading the papers, watching the news and seeing how many people have died, it’s just awful.

“We are hoping to get open some time this week. Most people are stuck in their houses, shovelling snow. I don’t know of any people from Ireland who are visiting, who got stuck. I think it’s mostly people who are from here who are affected."

Moving around the city has been extremely difficult.

“It took me an hour-and-a-half to get to work on Christmas Eve. It normally takes 10 minutes.

“But I know I was lucky. Sadly, some people weren’t so lucky. Some people ran out of gas and got stuck in the snow. Some people froze in their cars.

“The emergency services were even getting stuck in the snow. I never thought I’d see anything like this, it’s been an awful situation and it’s terrible we lost someone and so many people have lost someone.”


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