American victims of New York attack had bright futures, those who knew them say

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Nicholas Cleves, 23, and Darren Drake, 32, who both worked in New York, were recalled as thriving young men and praised for their kindness

The two young Americans who died alongside six tourists in the terrorist attack in New York on Tuesday have been praised as smart, promising young men who were clearly thriving and in the prime of their lives.

The native New Yorker Nicholas Cleves was just 23 and a talented software engineer who was remembered as a sweetheart by a local shopkeeper. Darren Drake was 32, a project manager for the credit ratings agency Moodys who commuted into the city daily from New Jersey and was described by his father as most innocent.

The two men were killed when a man drove a rented truck at high speed for almost a mile down the scenic cycle path that runs along the west side of Manhattan. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State late on Thursday.

Sayfullo Saipov, 29, who was shot and wounded by a police officer after he crashed the truck into a school bus, has been charged with federal terrorism crimes.

Eight people died in the attack on Tuesday afternoon, including a group of five men visiting from Argentina as part of a school reunion trip and a young mother on vacation from Belgium.

A dozen people were injured as the truck mowed down cyclists and pedestrians in a four-minute rampage. The worst injury befell a woman who has had to have both legs amputated, a New York police detective told the Guardian, asking that his name not be used as he was not authorized to discuss details of the incident publicly. They were crushed beyond repair. The injuries are awful, the detective said.

Darren Drake was cycling on the path on a rented bicycle, close to his office in lower Manhattan, when Saipov struck. His father now plans to give his sons bicycle, and his own, to charity.

Darren
Darren Drake. Photograph: Social Media/Reuters

Drake traveled by train into New York daily from his home in New Milford, New Jersey, where he lived with his parents, James and Barbara, and was an only child. They were forced to retrace his journey on Wednesday morning, traveling into New York by car to identify their sons body at the morgue.

When normal people took a coffee break, he took a bike break, and thats when it happened, James Drake told NBC. He was keeping fit after losing 100lb following weight-loss surgery, his father said.

He described Darren as a bookworm, who especially liked listening to audio books. When he was killed he was listening to 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles Mann. He was also studying for a second masters degree. He graduated from Rutgers University in New Jersey.

Life was perfect for him. He was the most innocent, delicate child. He wouldnt swat a fly, his father said.

The family lives just a few blocks from where Darren went to school and later was vice-president of the school board and had aspirations to run for the city council. Neighbors who had known him since he was a baby were in tears in the close-knit community on Wednesday.

Nicholas Cleves was an enthusiastic cyclist and died very close to his home. He lived with his mother in the West Village and had attended the private-sector partner schools the Little Red School House and Elisabeth Irwin school, collectively known as LREI, in the area.

Read more here: http://www.theguardian.com/us