The mother of Cooper Stock, Dana Lerner, stood on the newly christened ‘Cooper Stock Way’ and broke out into tears while recounting her son’s demands for chocolate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I miss you every day,” she said.
The intersection of 97th Street and West End Avenue marked the location of the tragic death of nine-year old Cooper Stock in January of last year. Today, it stands as a reminder to both drivers and pedestrians to be more cautious on the road. Cooper’s Law, calling for tougher penalties for taxis involved in pedestrian crashes, was passed by the New York City Council last fall.
The fourth-grade class of Calhoun School, where Cooper attended, rallied up Riverside Drive in Cooper’s name, and met up at the intersection with other members of the Upper West Side community for a ceremony.
Streets were blocked off by cop cars, and tons of school buses guarded the sides of the roads as little bodies marched in solidarity for one big purpose. Each student trekked down, side by side, carrying signs with messages either to their fellow classmate, or to the community as a whole about road safety.
Councilmember Helen Rosenthal said that although the incident was a tragedy, it shed light on New Yorkers about their traffic laws, their taxi drivers and how to better alert their kids about crossing the street. She said now, even when kids are walking down a one way street, they know to look left and right before crossing the road. And even when it is their right of way, they know to make firm eye-contact with the driver before crossing.
“When traffic crashes happen, they happen because one of the two parties is not paying attention,” she said. “These kids are going to be paying attention, and that is the most powerful thing that could’ve come out of Cooper’s great tragedy.”
One kid said that his only wish was for Cooper to be here, because he was like a brother to him and he misses him so much. Another said that whenever they would play sports together, Cooper always had the best sportsmanship and always wanted to make sure everyone had a good time.
As the kids each took their turn to say heartfelt remarks about their friend, they were surprisingly the most composed and high-spirited. On the other hand, members of the community and Cooper’s family responded with sadness and tears.
As Rosenthal comforted and caressed Lerner, who stood in tears, the new “Cooper Stock Way” sign was unveiled. Lerner lifted her arms in joy, and revealed her tattooed wrist with a heart that had ‘Cooper’ written inside of it.
“For my beautiful son Cooper, as long as I can, I will look at this world for both of us. As long as I can, I will laugh with the birds and sing with the flowers, I will pray to the stars for both of us,” she said. “As long as I can, I will remember how many things on this earth were your joy, and I will live as long as you want me to, as long as I can.”