East Village street co-named for men who died in explosion

Alfredo Locon, the brother of Moises Locon, speaks at the ceremony while flanked by local elected officials. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Two men killed in the gas explosion on Second Avenue at East 7th Street in 2015 have been memorialized with a street co-naming on the block.

The new signs up at the location designate East 7th Street between Second and Third Avenues as “Moises Locon Way” and the block of Second Avenue between East 7th and 8th Streets as “Nicholas Figueroa Way.”

On October 14, City Council Member Rosie Mendez held a ceremony to announce to unveil the sign, attended by family members of Locon and Figeuroa.

Moises Locon’s brother, Alfredo, was at the event and read a letter from his seven-year-old daughter, Stephanie.

“I miss you and my dad is so sad,” she said in her letter. “We have you in our heart.”

Locon, 26, worked at Sushi Park, the building at 121 Second Avenue where the explosion originated, and 23-year-old Figueroa was on a date in the restaurant when the gas explosion at 121 Second Avenue caused three buildings on the block to collapse, killing both men. The restaurant was in the second building from the corner but the subsequent fire caused the two buildings on either side of it to collapse as well.

Street signs honor the victims of the 2015 gas explosion.

The explosion in April 2015, likely followed an attempt to hide gas siphoning in the building. Law enforcement officials believed that one or more of the gas lines had been secretly tapped in the months prior to the explosion and the siphoning apparatus was hidden or dismantled before Con Edison conducted an inspection that day. Once the inspectors left, an attempt to resume the siphoning may have set off the explosion.

Mendez said at the ceremony that community organizations have been working with tenants to deal with issues caused by negligent landlords in other parts of the neighborhood and expressed frustration that the conflicts could have such tragic results.

“This is the biggest tragedy that could happen as the result of landlord greed,” Mendez said. “I’m working on legislation to make it near impossible, so this never happens again, but there were laws that could have prevented it and it still happened.”

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