'Polarized emotions': Couple weds in shadow of NYC crane collapse

When a construction crane came crashing down in New York City last Friday, it completely changed the course of a Toronto woman's wedding day.

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And while it wasn't quite the wedding she had envisioned, it certainly was a day she'll always remember.

Bride-to-be Nesh Pillay was getting ready in a Manhattan hair salon on Friday with her family, when a 172-metre came crashing down nearby.

Pillay, who was set to be married that day, said people in the salon felt the impact of the crash.

"(My sister) and her stylist mentioned that it felt like a minor earthquake," she told CTV's Canada AM. "But when we got done washing our hair and went into the next room, there were already whispers that the crane had fallen. Right away people were talking about the possibility of casualties. It all happened very quickly."

One man was killed when the crane came crashing down, and three others were injured. Officials are still investigating what caused the crash.

Pillay found herself stranded in the salon, as first responders tended to the scene and secured the area.

Not knowing when she'd get to her wedding, the 25-year-old put on her dress and fought her nerves, which were understandably rattled.

"It was definitely a rush of polarized emotions," she said, noting that she was eventually given the green light to leave the salon.

"By the time I was heading to Aaron through the sleet, and these unusually high heels, I wasn't even worried anymore about the wedding or getting married, because I knew that Aaron and I were going to get married no matter what," she said. "Something scary had just happened and I just wanted to see him and be near him."

Helping Pillay along the way was Ann Kansfield, a member of the New York City Fire Department, who spotted the bride in her white dress and immediately offered to help.

Kansfield covered Pillay in her firefighter's jacket and walked her and her family to the courthouse, where the couple was to be married.

Along the way, Kansfield told Pillay a little bit about her own background. Kansfield is the first female chaplain of the FDNY, and is also the first openly gay chaplain.

As they made their way to courthouse, Kansfield offered to marry the couple, and Pillay readily accepted the offer. "We were very honoured to have her there," Pillay said.

The couple was eventually married, surrounded by loved ones, and with their new friend officiating.

Vanderhoff is planning on relocating to Toronto to be with his wife. The two will also be taking a honeymoon trip at some point, possibly to the Maldives.


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