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hero remembered

Council Member James Vacca joined family, friends, and former colleagues of Port Authority Police Officer Dominick Pezzulo, to rename a traffic triangle after the local hero, who was killed on September 11, 2001, assisting rescue efforts at the World Trade Center.

The triangle, at E. Tremont Avenue and Hutchinson River Parkway, is located directly across the street from Herbert H. Lehman High School, where Pezzulo was a teacher for seven years before joining the Port Authority Police Department.

“Dominick Pezzulo was a public servant two times over, first as a public school teacher who inspired hundreds of young people in our community and then as a public safety officer dedicated to keeping New Yorkers safe,” Vacca said. “It is my hope that when thousands of young people walk by this triangle each day, they remember someone who truly defined courage, someone who knew what it meant to have character, in both ordinary and extraordinary times.”

Pezzulo was stationed at the Port Authority Bus Terminal when news of the terrorist attack came over the radio. He and a group of fellow officers commandeered a city bus and rushed to the Trade Center, where Pezzulo was sent to an underground concourse to aid the evacuation. After the South Tower collapsed, he helped save the lives of two fellow officers trapped under the rubble. He was struck and killed when the North Tower collapsed. He was 36 years old. Pezzulo’s heroics in the final hours of his life, and his efforts to save two fellow officers, were portrayed in the Oliver Stone film “World Trade Center.”

Joining the ceremony were Pezzulo’s widow, Jeanette; his two children, Dominick Jr. and Gianna; his parents, Dino and Vittoria; Port Authority Police Benevolent Association President Paul Nunziato; fellow PAPD officers; and the PAPD Honor Guard and Pipe Band. Also attending were Lehman High School Principal Dr. Janet Saraceno and former colleagues from Lehman. Before joining the PAPD in 2000, Pezzulo taught auto repair, math, and computer science at Lehman, from which he and his wife also graduated.

The City Council formally authorized the honorary street naming for Pezzulo last December at the recommendation of a local resident who had participated in recovery efforts at Ground Zero and had heard of Pezzulo’s story. Community Board 10 also passed a resolution in support of the naming. Representing the Board at the ceremony were Chairman John Marano and District Manager Kenneth Kearns.