Section of Delancey Street Co-Named Dashane Santana Way
A section of Delancey Street is now co-named Dashane Santana Way, assuring that the 12-year-old victim of a tragic traffic accident in January 2012 will never be forgotten. Loved ones, friends and community leaders gathered yesterday afternoon on the north side of Delancey and Clinton streets for an emotional ceremony to unveil the new signage.
Santana’s death finally forced the city to make safety improvements on the dangerous thoroughfare, including wider pedestrian areas and longer traffic signals. The Department of Transportation had ignored numerous calls for safety improvements, in spite of a serious of deaths and serious accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.
Two-and-a-half years after Santana’s death, the emotions are still raw for family members. Shamika Benjamin, her mother, wiped away tears as she told those gathered alongside the Williamsburg Bridge that her daughter is “gone but not forgotten.” Teresa Pedroza, Santana’s grandmother, led the co-naming campaign, which culminated in approval by Community Board 3 and the City Council. “We love her and miss her,” said Pedroza yesterday. “She was a special little girl.”
Council member Margaret Chin thanked the family for their strength in the aftermath of the tragedy. “Dashane inspired a community movement that forced the city to make changes. That is her legacy. Her name will always have a place in the heart of the Lower East Side,” she said. Council member Rosie Mendez noted that it is unusual in New York City to name streets after accident victims because, unfortunately, there are a lot of victims. She explained, however, that Santana’s case was different because her death “brought the whole community together.”
Santana was walking home from Castle Middle School on Henry Street with a group of friends when the accident happened. Yesterday, classmates, a teacher and Principal Judith De Los Santos=Pena all spoke. They pointed out that Santana would have graduated with her class this year. They called her a “bright star and a true leader” with a smile that lit up the room.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer also attended yesterday’s ceremony. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was not present, but he released a statement that read, in part: “As we rename this street in (Dashane Santana’s) honor, we are reaffirming our commitment to keep her memory alive. After great sorrow and loss, we can take some solace in the positive impact her life has had on those who loved her, as well as our community as a whole.”