Meeting saved crash victim's brother

August 1, 2008 8:45:02 PM PDT
A basic law of physics - you can't be in two places at once - saved Eric Rosenberg's life. The New Jersey glass company executive planned to be aboard a private jet that was to take his brother and several other casino and construction executives to Minnesota for a meeting on a $2 billion casino project in Atlantic City.

But a few days beforehand, he was diverted.

Because he was attending another meeting in Philadelphia, Eric Rosenberg was not aboard the jet that crashed Thursday at an airport in Minnesota. All eight people aboard were killed, including Eric's brother, Marc Rosenberg, the chief operating officer of APG International. The Glassboro, N.J. firm specializes in glass facades.

Eric Rosenberg, a company vice president, was too distraught to speak Friday about the crash, a company spokeswoman said. Company chairman Edward Zaucha said the company had to staff two meetings at the same time in cities 1,000 miles apart.

"Early in the planning stages for the trip to Minnesota, Eric was going to join his brother," Zaucha said. "However, we were simultaneously scheduled to attend a scope review meeting on another project. So we diverted Eric to attend the meeting in Philadelphia with our managing director from Germany. Marc and Alan went to Viracon."

The decision to divert Eric Rosenberg to Philadelphia was made several days before the flight, company spokeswoman Amelia Townsend said.

Marc Rosenberg and Alan Barnett, APG's assistant project manager, were en route to attend a meeting with employees of Viracon, a Minnesota glass company that is doing work on the $2 billion Revel Entertainment casino-hotel project in Atlantic City.

The crash also killed three Revel executives: Tony Craig, 50, of Brigantine, N.J., and Chris Daul, 44, of Northfield, N.J., both of whom were vice presidents of construction development; and Lawrence "Chip" Merrigan, 62, of Absecon, N.J., the company's director of field operations.

"This is a sad time for Revel Entertainment," said company CEO Kevin DeSanctis. "These gentlemen were valued for their camaraderie as well as their professional expertise. The loss of their friendship and that of Karen Sandland of Tishman Construction will be keenly felt by all of us here."

Sandland, 44, was a project manager for Tishman Construction Corp. who was working on the Revel project, and the plane's two pilots, Dan D'Ambrosio, 27, and Clark Keefer, also died in the crash.

Marc Rosenberg and Zaucha had just returned a week ago from a business trip to China, where they were enthusiastic about expanding into that country's burgeoning market.

"Marc was so excited about the trip and the opportunities it presented for our company," Zaucha said.

Of Barnett, Zaucha said, "He brought us all an energy and vitality to every aspect of his work and to the people here. The spark he brought to all of us will be sorely missed.

"It will take time, but we are resolved to keep the projects they dedicated themselves to on target," Zaucha said. "Their work will be a legacy to the kind of people they were - dedicated, hard-working and genuinely two of the best people any of us here at APG International ever had the pleasure of knowing."

Rosenberg's family issued a statement Friday asking for privacy as they mourn their son.

"Marc Rosenberg was a loving husband, father and son who was dedicated beyond words to the people he loved," the statement read. "He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. This is a terrible thing that happened, and there are many grieving for all those who perished in this accident."

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine offered condolences to the victims' families.

"This crash serves as a reminder that life is fragile, precious and fleeting and we must make the most of the time we've been given," said Corzine, who nearly died himself in a car crash last year. "All of New Jersey will be keeping the families of those lost in their thoughts and prayers."

Joe Corbo, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, said the deaths rocked the city's 11 casinos.

"While our industry is large in some respects, those of us who work within the industry either know one another, or have very few degrees of separation between us," he said. "So this has been a time of shock, sadness and reflection for many of us within the industry. Our sympathy and prayers go out to the family, friends and loved ones who have been affected by this tragedy, including of course those within the Revel organization."

Revel is building an ocean-themed casino due to open in 2010 on the Boardwalk. It could not immediately be determined if the loss of key executives would alter that timetable.

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