VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It’s been three years since the cargo ship El Faro sunk in the Atlantic Ocean.
Thirty-three crew members were lost at sea, and some describe the incident has one of the worst maritime disasters that happened in the United States.
Chief Engineer Richard Pusatere was one of the crew men on board the vessel. The New York native lived in Virginia Beach for several years.
News 3 interviewed Richard’s wife, Emily Pusatere, when the tragedy first happened, along with her father-in-law, Frank Pusatere. We spoke to them on the third anniversary.
They both said they are handling today just like any other day and that Richard’s memory is still very alive.
Emily said the past three years have been difficult in many aspects, but she keeps moving ahead.
“Everything I thought my life was going to be was just wiped out in that one day,” said Emily. “Missing him is hard; it hits me every day, but you just need to keep moving forward.”
Emily has since moved away from Virginia Beach and is raising her daughter as a single parent living closer to other relatives.
“My purpose as a parent is to make sure that my daughter has a happy, fulfilled life with a parent who is present and invested. Through my dark days she’s the one that kept me going, to be completely honest,” said Emily.
Richard's father, Frank Pusatere, says his son loved his job and that he is missed every day. He said Richard had a deep passion for his work and loved being out at sea.
Previously, the National Transportation Safety Board came out with a report that found fault with the vessel’s captain, safety equipment and procedures.
Emily said she’s doesn’t blame just one person for what happened out at sea. She said many mistakes made by many people led to the outcome of the situation.
She stressed she doesn’t want her husband or her family thought of as victims and doesn’t want Richard defined by the tragedy.
“He had a really good life for 34 years. He traveled all over the world. He made amazing friendships with really great people,” said Emily. “I want people to remember who Merchant Marines are and what they do.”
Richard Pusatere was a 2003 alumni of SUNY Maritime College. Loved ones say there is a scholarship being formed in his name.
On October 13, Richard will be honored at a SUNY Maritime College Reunion. Richard’s family members plan on attending.
Loved ones said they are happy to keep his spirit and memory alive.