A Flushing man died after a tree crashed into his home Monday night, police said, as earth-shattering Sandy continued to barrel through the city.
Laino was pinned in his bedroom after the tremendous tree fell, ripping through the upper left portion of the two-story home, authorities and neighbors said.
“The mother came outside screaming,” said neighbor Howard Senior, who lives across the street. “There were trucks, lights, all sorts of emergency vehicles. It was a mob scene. Somebody went upstairs, but there was no noise from the room. They didn’t hear a thing. It just crushed him.”
Another neighbor, who did not want her name published, said the victim’s mother ran down the street and rang her doorbell that night asking for help in saving her trapped son.
“He was just pinned underneath the tree. There was nothing that could be done,” she said. “The poor mother was helpless. It took a very long time to even try and get in there — that’s how big the tree was.”
Laino lived with his parents and one of two brothers. There were no other reported injuries in the home. As of press time, the remaining family members had been displaced, but it was unclear where they sought shelter.
The collapse rendered the rest of the house unstable, the neighbor said, adding that emergency responders pulled out “very quickly.”
“The winds were blowing. It was just terrifying,” she said. “It’s just a tragedy.”
A man who identified himself only as Laino’s brother, who mentioned he did not currently live in the 166th Street home, wept outside the scene on Tuesday morning.
“He was an amazing person,” he said. “He always wanted to help people. He was a great man.”
Neighbors and an overwhelming outpouring of Facebook friends remembered Laino — the youngest of three brothers and a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental — as an idol to kids on the block and a funny, cheerful person.
“Although my heart is heavy, I’ll never forget how you made me smile,” friend Deirdre Mooney posted on his Facebook wall Tuesday morning. “I hope you’re one of [the] first faces I see on the other side.”
Danielle Esposito wrote about how Laino “always made me feel happy and beautiful and endlessly made me laugh with his antics.”
“Honestly have no idea how we are going to do this,” she said.
Friend Adam Lombardi told the Courier Laino was a “go-getter, always looking to improve himself.”
“I think I speak for the entire neighborhood when I say it’s a tragic loss and he’s going to be missed,” he said.
But the tragedy could have been averted, according to family and neighbors, who say the Lainos tried time and time again to get the city to remove the towering threat.
“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 f—–g years,” Laino’s brother said.
The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s joint information center, which did not immediately respond.
Senior said the tree was “too big, too dangerous” as he watched it sway during the storm.
“It’s a solid tree, but it started to rock,” he said. “I said ‘Son of a gun, that’s going to come down.’”