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Its a dangerously unchecked industry, and the potential for disaster is as boundless as our longing to look good
The lovely young woman on my medical rounds has a gaping hole on her forehead. The hole is deep and there is pus brimming from the side. The edges look macerated and discoloured and the stench emanating from it is noticeable. She looks like the victim of a vicious accident until we discover that this is the result of a cosmetic procedure gone wrong. She is flustered and angry, but mainly worried about the possibility of permanent disfigurement.
The plastic surgeon duly arrives, his response one of unmitigated dismay: Oh God.
Over the next week, the woman receives powerful antibiotics and one round of surgical debridement. The surgeon advises that the repair process will take several months.
When she knows us a little better she produces consecutive images capturing the unfolding catastrophe. The final picture is from Instagram before intervention. Her skin is smooth and young and her features look nice, but all she notices is the blemish of a mole.
See that? I couldnt bear it, but now I am positively ugly. Then she bursts into tears.
We console her as best we can but there is no escaping the fact that in the quest to fix a small perceived defect she has attracted a lot more trouble than she bargained for. She seems nonplussed when the plastic surgeon questions her about the qualifications of her provider. He was a doctor, she says defensively. What else did I need to know?
This woman may sound nave but qualified plastic surgeons say that she is typical of uninformed patients who belatedly realise the consequences of their decision to have routine cosmetic surgery.
Cosmetic surgery clinics have long operated with impunity but they have recently been in the spotlight with reports of widespread shoddy procedures including unsafe anaesthetic practices and inadequate infrastructure to monitor serious complications.
Beauty clinics that once offered safe services now perform a ubiquitous trade in laser procedures. Getting a Brazilian does not involve nearly the same level of risk as laser resurfacing, says a dermatologist, who sees examples of interventions gone wrong.
But unregulated cosmetic clinics are thriving, offering everything from Botox, laser and fillers to breast and nose jobs, tummy tucks and facelifts. Slick websites promise the world: quick and painless makeovers that will restore patients (mostly women) to their pre-baby self or sculpt the confident, trim and taut body they have always dreamt of having.
The word cosmetic is affixed to doctor, physician, surgeon, plastic surgeon and dermatologist. Of these, only the latter two have undergone years of specialist training and accreditation by a professional college. While clinics claim that other cosmetic providers may have a basic medical degree, their training in performing complex cosmetic procedures is variable and unscrutinised.
According to plastic surgeons who end up picking up the pieces after cosmetic surgery gone wrong, many providers know that patients dont have the sophistication to question the difference. They describe removing botched breast and nose implants, treating disfiguring scars and resuscitating patients who suffer large fluid shifts after aggressive liposuction. Many of them have taken place on a luxury overseas holiday that combined tourism and surgery at a fraction of the price. The corrective procedures are painful, time-consuming and place an extra burden on the public healthcare system.
But cosmetic does not mean unimportant, as one dermatologist rightly says. Its nave to think that appearance doesnt matter. It matters in every walk of life. Even the ancient Egyptians, free of the influences of social media, regarded beauty as a sign of holiness, going to considerable lengths to procure Kohl and malachite for their eyes and red ochre for cheeks.
A man wants the red veins on his nose removed to remove the impression of being an alcoholic. A woman feels that the permanent frown on her forehead makes her look angry to her colleagues and is threatening her job security. A young man says people cant look beyond the large birth malformation on his face. Modern medicine has the tools to help, and patients ought to benefit from them, but they also deserve an honest discussion of the evidence underlying treatment.
When a woman tells me she settled on a tummy tuck after a single phone call, I wonder how uninformed buyers can be so easily convinced of the merits of expensive and major surgery. Visiting various websites, I am struck by the glossy pictures selling the attractive proposition that a tummy tuck is perfect for the woman who wants to look more feminine, regain her self-esteem and nicer contours for someone who doesnt mind the children but hates the resulting abdominal baggage, for the woman who dreads the beach and who is at risk of sinking into depression because her waist is larger than her hip.
There is an outwardly sympathetic but sinister implication that sometimes, no amount of healthy living can make a woman as beautiful as a round of surgery. The mention of complications is notably sparse and that of cost virtually non-existent. You could be forgiven for thinking that although the benefits are self-evident and compelling, the risks are a side issue and the costs immaterial.
In a 2015 study published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, American researchers reported on the outcomes of 25,000 abdominoplasties (tummy tucks) 95% of patients were women, with an average age of 42. Two-thirds combined the procedure with other cosmetic surgery. Tummy tucks can be undertaken alone or as part of the Mummy Makeover Package, combining breast, abdominal and vaginal work. Less serious problems managed in the clinic were not included in the study but the rate of major complications was high at 4%, rising to an alarming 10.4% for combined procedures. The commonest complications were bleeding, infection, venous thrombosis, and lung injury, all potentially life-threatening.
When I call a popular cosmetic clinic on a Friday afternoon and ask to speak to a patient advisor, demand is high and the wait is long. I introduce myself as a mother enquiring about cosmetic surgery for the first time and am immediately asked which one of the extensive menu of procedures I want. An abdominoplasty, I venture, and am rewarded with the knowledge that its incredibly popular.
Id like to know who this procedure is right for, I ask.
Its right for anyone who wants it.
I am astounded by this claim, and from a nurse too.
Her advice contradicts professional guidelines that advise surgery in cases of massive weight loss (that leaves redundant skin behind), documented serious infection or skin necrosis due to overhanging fat or functional limitation with walking or hygiene, and only when non-surgical management has not worked.
After hearing a slick promotion about the tummy tuck that will iron out more than the abdominal sags, I ask about side effects and costs and am told this requires a discussion with the doctor. I concede this as reasonable but cant help noticing that the anticipated benefits have already been aggressively impressed upon me without the same doctors input.
Do women decide so quickly? I enquire, considering I am none the wiser about the providers qualifications, cost or complications.
Most of our women have already decided and they walk out of here with a date.
Research into the preferences of first-time cosmetic surgery recipients finds that viewers of plastic surgery reality television are more likely to be influenced by the shows, believe themselves to be better informed, but have more unrealistic expectations of surgery.
Experts say that cosmetic surgery is a sign of our times and here to stay, which is why qualified plastic surgeons and dermatologists, who might previously have avoided the field, want a hand in the game. They say that while most patients are satisfied, cosmetic surgery providers are obliged to screen out those with depression, psychosis, body dysmorphic disorder and minimal deformity who need other forms of help instead of surgery they can ill-afford. But many openly admit that the multimillion dollar cost of running a modern cosmetic clinic causes ethical obligations that clash with the financial imperative.
When you have bought a six-figure laser machine and are spending tens of thousands in maintenance fees, there is a perverse incentive to suggest a procedure instead of reassuring a woman that her nose looks just fine, a clinic owner tells me. If patients are to be adequately protected, the cosmetic industry will need to be regulated rather than customers relying on a voluntary code of conduct.
In todays aggressive world of cosmetic surgery, the patients role cant be ignored. The patient cant afford to be nave and trust the most polished advertising. Before committing to cosmetic surgery, there is a personal obligation to reflect a little on what it will actually accomplish.
Disappointingly, research shows that when it comes to almost every form of healthcare, with every pill we swallow and procedure we subject to, we consistently overestimate the benefits and underestimate the harm.
Combine this with an unchecked industry, and the potential for tears is as boundless as our longing to look good.Continue reading
Raise your hand if you own a website.
Now, keep it up if youâve ever thought about selling it.
Selling a website can be tough. Itâs your baby. It represents so much sweat equity. Youâve created it from basically nothing. Why would you ever sell it?
In short, money.
Not all websites are worth money, but if your site makes money consistently every month, you can sell it for a lot more than it makes.
In fact, people do it all the time. Below is one of many examples of sites recently sold by leading website broker, FE International (there are hundreds like this):
Itâs a relatively simple site. It makes $4600 a month. And it sold for $218,000.
Not bad right?
But how would you even start to approach selling your website?
You could list it on one of the big marketplaces, but assets can take forever to sell there, and you definitely wonât get a high multiple (a multiplier used to value a websiteâusually between 20x and 30x the monthly profit).
You could find a private buyer, but thatâs an astonishingly huge amount of work. Plus, youâd have to take care of all the negotiations, finances, and legal work yourself (or spend major cash on a lawyer).
For our money, the best and easiest way to sell a site is through a website broker (thereâs a much more robust business case for using a broker below).
There are just so many upsides. So, if youâve got a website you think you might want to sell, this is a guide on how to choose the right brokerage.
A lot of people donât even know website brokers exist, but they doâjust like yacht brokers, stock brokers, or real estate brokers.
And the function is pretty much the same: to connect buyers and sellers.
Of course, it can be a little more complicated than that with websites. Firstly, websites are digital assets, and sellers might never even see their buyers, and that can sometimes complicate things when people start kicking the tires.
It also takes a lot more financial and legal acumen to facilitate the sale of a website because, often, it is more a business than it is a tangible thing.
A good website broker will cover all these bases. Theyâll understand how to properly âkick the tiresâ of a website. Theyâll have legal and financial teams. And a broker understands that what theyâre selling is a business, and theyâll treat it that way.
If you want to sell your website, there arenât many reasons not to use a broker. That said, using a broker isnât the right decision 100% of the time. So before we really dig into how to choose the best website broker for your business, letâs quickly run through the rationale of using one at all.
In general, website brokers sell sites in the mid-to-high ranges.
For a website brokerage like FE International, one of the premier website brokers on Planet Earth, that range is in the $20,000 to $20,000,000 range. Hereâs a quick sample of some of their recently sold listings.
Now, if youâre thinking â$20,000?! Thatâs a ton of money! Thereâs no way my site could be worth $20,000!â
You might be wrong.
A website brokerage like FE International routinely sells businesses for 2.5x – 4.5x the annual profit, and a high-quality site that generates mostly passive income can sell for even higher. At that multiple, your site really only needs to be generating about $670/mo to break that $20,000 bare minimum barrier.
Of course, a lot of you probably have websites that earn much, much more than that, so you may not have that problem.
The other main reason to use a website broker is that they typically have access to large pools of qualified buyers.
Letâs say you have a website that earns about $2,000/mo. At a benchmark 2.5x multiple (of annual revenue), you might be able to offload that site for about $60,000. For a super high-quality site, that number might jump to $80,000.
Do you have many friends who are able to spend $80,000â¦ like today?
I know I donât.
Brokerages do. They are in the business of buying and selling websites. FE International, for example, has over 650 transactions under its belt. You donât make that many sales without developing a network of people who want to buy websites.
At top brokerages, sometimes websites donât even make it to the public listings; instead, theyâre snatched up by the piranha pool of rabid website buyers before they ever see the light of day.
This is especially true with content sites. Content sites (sites monetized with content and display ads or affiliate revenue) tend to sell quickest because they tend to be by far the most passive kind of website.
Thatâs what most of us build, right?
The point is: Instead of hunting down buyers on your own, a broker can probably sell your website way faster than you can.
This is a big one for most folks.
As nerve-wracking as it is for you to sell your website, itâs probably worse for the person letting go of that $60,000 (or however much your website goes for).
Youâre going to need air-tight legal contracts that make all parties comfortable and keep everyone safe.
Youâre also going to need proper valuations, a platform for negotiations, and some sort of escrow system to safely transfer the assets.
Iâm sure you could figure out how to do all this, but if you donât know how and donât want to figure it out, using a website broker might alleviate a major pain point.
This was a big one for me when I first started buying and selling websites. I remember buying a site on one of the bigger marketplaces instead of going through a broker.
If you didnât know, when you make a purchase through one of those marketplaces, even after youâve negotiated a price and settled the money, youâre 100% on your own when it comes to the actual technical transfer of the asset.
The problem was neither of usâmyself nor the sellerâknew the first thing about how to transfer ownership of a website.
So there I was, out several thousand dollars, sitting on my hands with no money and no website. We eventually figured it out, but it was not a fun couple of days.
Brokers help you get around this issue.
Most website brokerages will have a technical team that can help take care of the transfer, and, as much as theyâre able, theyâll transfer the money and the asset at the same time.
This also adds an extra layer of security, since the technical part of the asset transfer is arguably the highest-risk part of the whole deal.
For my money, the answer is almost always yes.
There is one downside: fees.
Top tier brokerages typically charge 10-15% commission for their role in facilitating the sale of a digital business; however, you can almost always make that up in the increased prices brokerages typically command, which = a net higher profit for you.
So, yes, Iâd say itâs almost always worth looking at a good broker before you try to sell a website on your own.
The advantages are just too good to ignore:
At the very least, itâs worth looking into.
So you want to use a broker. Good call. How do you find a good one?
There are tons of brokers out there, and many of them do a good job. So letâs take a quick quiz to try to play matchmaker.
Probably the first question you need to be able to answer is âHow much is my website worth?â
You donât need to know precisely. But you do need to know roughly before spending a bunch of time talking to buyers and brokers (brokers have their own sophisticated formulas for site valuations).
You need to know this ballpark valuation figure because different brokers will cover different parts of the market. A more hands-on, marketplace-style platform (like Websitebroker.com) might be best for deals under $20,000, while a brokerage like FE International handles more âup-marketâ deals in the $20,000 – $20,000,000 range.
At a very general level, a website is worth roughly 30x its monthly profit; however, thatâs based on lots of factors, and some sites can capture higher multiples if they have features like the following:
As a benchmark, you can use the simple formula: annual profit x 2.5.
If your business is super passive or has any of the other qualities listed above, you might be able to bank on a bit higher price.
But really, you mostly just need to know if your site is over the $20,000 mark. If it is, Iâd recommend getting a free site valuation like this one at one of the major website brokerages.
So hereâs an answer. If your website is worth $20,000 or less, consider:
And if your website is worth $20,000 or more:
Do you want to save a bit of money on fees, or would you prefer to have the most professional possible experience?
I think most of us will probably fall in to camp âI want the best service.â
If weâre using a website broker, weâre doing it because we want all the extra assistance. So, when I sell sites, I donât worry much about fees. Instead, Iâm way more concerned with the quality of the help.
So youâre really looking for a website brokerage that:
(1) has the infrastructure in place to actually provide help at all stages of the sale
(2) one that has been around a long time, and
(3) one that has a strong professional reputation
I donât recommend some other firms that I won’t name here. Iâve heard too many horror storiesâand ones specifically on the technical and legal sideâto feel comfortable recommending some of them.
If you were going to, say, sell on a big marketplace like Flippa, thereâs a good chance youâd be staring at your computer screen watching your auction expire without any bites from serious buyers.
One of the main advantages of using a brokerage is their ability to move products.
So, if I were setting out to choose a website brokerage, Iâd strongly prefer those who have big lists of buyers to sell to.
And I donât just mean big audiences or lots of website traffic. I mean email lists of dedicated buyers who are serious about purchasing websites (or, in some cases, brokerages will also buy businesses directly – somewhat of a conflict of interest).
Compiling a list of qualified buyers isnât easy. It takes many years to develop, and often youâre just going to have to ask the brokers themselves how many vetted buyers are in their database.
So, if I were you, Iâd send a quick email to the brokers youâre considering.
FE International was founded by Thomas Smale in 2010 and quickly became one of the premier brokerages for up-market online businesses. Today, Iâd say FE is probably the best overall choice for sites valued between $20,000 and $20,000,000.
All told, at the time of writing, FE has brokered over 650 deals (that amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, if you were wondering). At 650 total deals and counting, FE is widely considered the most active broker in the industry.
They also may be the biggest. Currently, they have a team of over 40 people, including finance, technical, and marketing experts. FE has its headquarters in New York but also has offices in Boston, London, Ho Chi Minh City, and Singapore.
If youâre curious about the kind of work FE does, you can check out some of their recent listings here.
Not a lot of people know about Websitebroker.com, which is why I kind of consider it a diamond in the roughâa little gem of a marketplace that accomplishes what Flippa sets out to do, only without the absurd levels of spam and scams.
Itâs important to note Websitebroker.com isnât technically a brokerage; itâs a marketplace (read more about the difference between marketplaces and brokerages here). So, itâs more or less the polar opposite of a firm like FE International.
But it nicely covers the parts of the market below what higher-tier brokers capture, and even though itâs not as well-known, there are plenty of buyers using the platformâcertainly enough to get your site sold.
iAcquisitions is another broker that serves the upper end of the market. Theyâre not quite as active or experienced as FE, nor do they have as big and global a team, but they are quite well regarded in the industry.
Their big selling point is mostly that theyâre âentrepreneurial,â which, to them, means they have actual experience building and selling their own sites. And honestly, this, to me, is a pretty big benefit. A few brokers have lots of financial acumen, but not many have been down in the trenches, which can sometimes make it easier to understand, value, and sell a business.
Ahâ¦ good olâ Flippa. No, theyâre not a brokerage. Yes, they have a somewhat troubled reputation. Still, selling sites on Flippa isnât all bad, all the time. In fact, it can be a damn good place to do it in some cases.
Like Websitebroker.com, Flippa is a marketplace (i.e., not a pure brokerage). But itâs not just any marketplace; itâs the biggest and oldest website marketplace there is. It was started by a guy named Mark Harbottle in 2009 and became one of the few website marketplaces in existence, launching its user base into the stratosphere.
Of course, that kind of growth + the inherent problems of a marketplace = lots of problems.
In Flippaâs case, those problems mostly manifest in the form of scams and spam. Itâs not their fault. They do a lot to stop it. But itâs still a problem.
Luckily, though, itâs much less of a problem for sellers than it is for buyers (i.e., itâs a lot easier for a seller to scam a buyer than the other way around). Itâs generally pretty safe for sellers as long as you use Flippaâs escrow system.
Here are a few other pros and cons.
Similar to FE International, Latonas is another brokerage that serves the mid to upper end of the market. Theyâve been around for about the same amount of time and sell sites in the same general price range, although they have fewer deals under their belt than FE does.
One of the unique things about Latonas is that they are the only âpremiumâ brokerage to facilitate the sale of domain portfolios, an asset class usually found on down-market platforms like Websitebroker.com.
What happens after you pick a broker, and decide to list your website, will depend largely on the broker. But in general, hereâs more or less what you can expect.
This is mostly common sense: the first step before anyone invests any real time into your siteâwhether theyâre a buyer or a brokerâis for you to prove all the numbers are real.
The most basic way to prove the numbers is a simple profit and loss statement (usually in the form of an excel spreadsheet or a report by whatever accounting software you use.
(Source: Authorâs Screenshot/Microsoft Office)
The due diligence process typically involves a more robust verification process of those same numbers and more scrutiny of the business modelâyouâll need to prove the traffic is real and the revenue is real.
There are many ways to do this, but most brokerages implement some combination of:
(1) Back-end access to accounts associated with traffic and revenue sources, and/or
(2) Live video walkthroughs.
For larger businesses, you might also expect to hand over bank statements and tax returns.
Due diligence might also include scrutiny of the moving parts of the business. You might answer questions about a drop in revenue or systems youâve created. Or you might show the prospective buyer your ad campaigns, so they understand the mechanics of what theyâre buying.
Overall, due diligence is a flexible term, and it can mean different things for different businesses. Most brokerages have their own due diligence process, but if you want to get an idea of the basics, here is an article from FE International founder Thomas Smale that outlines the process.
After the due diligence process, the broker will list the business, and, most of the time, especially at premium website brokerages, theyâll market it for you.
Because the top-tier brokerages have networks of buyers who are always looking for sites, the first step is often to reach out to those folks to see if thereâs any interest, or, in the case of some firms, a brokerage might actively go hunt buyers down.
Of course, brokerages typically also have websites and audiences where they list sites concurrently.
If a buyer is interested, youâll begin the negotiation process.
This is typically a back-and-forth process, but most of the time, the brokerage will have attached a valuation number to your business, and the conversation will start there.
A buyer might negotiate the price down, or try to negotiate for something else: for example, some buyers ask for extended training from the seller or for other assets to be included in the sale.
The last step is the transfer.
Most brokerages have an escrow system. Theyâll have teams to facilitate both the transfer of the technical assets and the remittance of the funds.
After the transfer, youâll tie up any loose ends you agreed to take care of during negotiation.
Weâve been throwing out numbers from the beginning of this postâto quote myself, âOn a very general basis, a website is worth roughly $30x its monthly profitâ¦â
But how do we increase that number? How can we sell our business for the highest possible multiple?
In general, these are the things that increase the multiplier:
The more passive a business is, the more valuable it is. For example, something like a consulting service, where more owner participation is required will generally have a lower multiple than a content-driven website that only requires a handful of hours per month.
In practice: To increase passivity, develop good, automated systems that wonât require a lot of input from a new owner.
Simple businesses also tend to fetch higher multiples. Something like a SaaS business, for example, might require a developer, customer service department, and ad campaigns. Compare that to an SEO-driven affiliate blog that essentially just has to hit the publish button.
In practice: This may not be something you can necessarily accomplish easily, since the simplicity relies a lot on the business model itself. That said, simplicity also comes from good processes and an efficiently run business, so investing in Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and quality employees/freelancers is also a good idea.
Businesses with a strong history typically fetch higher multiples. In other words, a business whoâs been online and profitable for five years will usually be worth more than the business who had a great first year but has no other history (all else being equal, of course).
In practice: This probably comes down to timing; unless you have people beating down your door to buy your site, it can pay to wait. Not only will you likely sell your website for more, but youâll also benefit from the revenue it makes in those interim years. If youâre patient and your business is strong, itâs not out of the question to 2x or 3x your money this way.
Sites on an upswing generally sell for more than those riding a decline. There are specialized buyers looking to snag businesses in trouble and fix them, but theyâre a small group, and in general, buyers prefer businesses showing growth.
In practice: This is probably also about timingâbut also a little about effort. If your business is in a slump, itâs probably not a good time to sell it. Instead, fix it. And if you canât or donât want to fix it, itâs probably worth forking over some cash to pay someone to fix it for you, since youâre likely to more than make up the cost when you sell.
Do you have a digital business to sell? What questions do you have? Which website broker are you leaning towards? Let us know in the comments!Â
The post How to Choose the Best Website Broker to Sell Your Website appeared first on DreamGrow.Continue reading
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Games company launches lawsuit accusing Nestl of plain and blatant breach of its copyright in UK advert
Nestl has been accused of copying Ataris classic 1970s video game Breakout for a KitKat marketing campaign.
In a complaint filed on Thursday in a federal court in San Francisco, Atari said Nestl knowingly exploited the Breakout name, look and feel through social media and a video, hoping to leverage the special place it holds among nostalgic baby boomers, Generation X, and even todays millennial and post-millennial gamers.
Atari cited an ad titled KitKat: Breakout, in which adults and children sitting on a sofa used paddles to knock down KitKat bars.
According to Atari, Nestl simply took the classic Breakout screen, replaced its bricks with KitKat bars, and invited customers to break out and buy more candy bars.
The games firm accused Nestl of copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestl cannot claim to be an innocent infringer, Atari said. Nestl knew exactly what it was doing.
It is seeking three times Nestls profit from the alleged infringement, plus triple and punitive damages.
Nestl said: This is a UK TV advert that ran in 2016. The ad no longer runs and we have no current plans to rerun it.
We are aware of the lawsuit in the US and will defend ourselves strongly against these allegations.Continue reading
While the president used the attack to rail against political correctness, New Yorkers took in the news of the tragedy, then went about their daily lives
The terrorist suspect who used a rented truck to kill eight people and injure 12 in the Manhattan attack had been planning the incident for weeks and followed Islamic State guidelines “to a T”, New York police said on Wednesday.
As the twisted and gnarled truck that was used to plough down unsuspecting tourists and cyclists remained parked on the spot where it had come to a halt on Tuesday afternoon, FBI and NYPD officers fanned out across the city and through neighboring New Jersey. They were armed with search warrants relating to Sayfullo Saipov, the 29-year-old Uzbek-born suspect who was shot in the stomach and who is still under guard in stable condition at the city’s Bellevue hospital.
At a press conference on Wednesday, police and city authorities revealed vivid details of items that were found at the scene of the worst terrorist incident that New York has suffered since 9/11. Inside the truck, notes were found handwritten in Arabic proclaiming that “Islamic State would endure for ever”. A number of knives were scattered around the vehicle, as were two dummy guns.
Police said the aim now was to “peel back” Saipov’s communications to reconstruct his every move, day by day. They would be interviewing relatives and friends, collecting footage from security cameras along the route of the attack, scouring Saipov’s family home where he was living with his wife and three children in Paterson, New Jersey, as well as searching the rented Home Depot truck and his own white van left at the rental location.
Social media sites linked to the suspect showed signs of Isis material, police said. One officer bluntly stated that the suspect had followed the terrorist group’s instructions “almost to a T”.
Pictures of the suspect captured at the crime scene showed him to be a slight man with a bushy beard, dressed in a blue and red tracksuit. Eye witnesses reported that as he stumbled out of the Home Depot truck, wielding objects that turned out to be a pellet and paintball gun, he exclaimed “Allahu akbar” (God is great).
The scale of the attack became clear on Wednesday, with the crime-scene tape acting as a guide to the journey taken by the assailant. The yellow band stretches cruelly on for about a mile, past 18 complete blocks of New York real estate in the Tribeca district, following the water-fronted West Side bike lane that in normal times is cherished by New Yorkers as a place to run, relax and enjoy the river.
At dawn on Wednesday, the usually hectic West Side Highway was stripped of traffic and strangely silent, save for the relentless thrum of a police helicopter over head. Mangled frames of two bicycles were still visible along the lane, and at Vestry Street FBI agents dressed in white forensic suits were huddled around an undefined artifact.
The attacker turned into the bike lane at about 3.04pm on Tuesday at West Houston Street, opposite Pier 40 where school children were playing soccer on pitches suspended above piles over the Hudson River. Then he picked up speed as he careened his four-wheeled weapon – stamped with the slogan: “Rent me starting at $19” – towards the crowd.
He hurtled past the Tribeca dog run and the kids’ playground at Pier 25, speeding between trees whose leaves have turned an autumnal brown. Along the way south, he struck from behind – the ultimate act of cowardice, the city’s mayor Bill de Blasio called it – mowing down unsuspecting cyclists and pedestrians who were out enjoying the sunny afternoon.
He hit three people early on in his death ride, followed by a six-block gap before he took down a further three, and then another gap before he struck his last two victims.
Finally, the truck rammed into a school bus and swerved to a stop on Chambers Street, just four blocks shy of Ground Zero, under the shadow of 1 World Trade Center and the previous terrorist carnage of 16 years ago.
He was stopped by NYPD officer Ryan Nash, 28, who fired nine rounds and hit him in the stomach. He had rented the vehicle at 2.06pm, crossed the bridge into New York City 37 minutes later and by 3.08pm had killed eight and injured 12 people. Nine remain in the hospital, four of them in critical condition, with injuries ranging from head, chest, back and neck, to one patient who needed a double amputation.
Hours later the truck remained where it came to a halt, surrounded by a heavy police presence, its doors with their Home Depot logo ajar and the front of the vehicle twisted and gnarled in a grotesque reminder of the pain he had inflicted.
After the initial shock of the attack had passed, details of the victims began to emerge. Six died at the scene, two more in the the hospital.
Five of the eight had come from Buenos Aires as part of a 30-year school reunion, their nostalgic celebration of friendship torn asunder by hatred. The Argentine government named them as Hernán Mendoza, Diego Angelini, Alejandro Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij and Hernan Ferruchi.
Of the remaining three victims, one was Belgian and two American. The father of one of the Americans, 32-year-old Darren Drake, who grew up in new Milford, New Jersey, said his son was one of the dead, and had been out for a bike ride between meetings when the truck hit him.Continue reading