Another Place for a Fallen Brother;
Long Island City road named after firefighter

Copyright 2002 Newsday, Inc.
Newsday (New York, NY)...04/28/2002


Together, four sisters pulled the protective white wrapping off the street sign that bears the name of their brother, Christopher Santora, 23, a firefighter who died at the World Trade Center.

"It makes us very proud that they bestowed this honor upon my son," Al Santora, 61, said yesterday as he dabbed his eyes with a white handkerchief. In a family of firefighters and teachers, the elder Santora is a retired Fire Department deputy chief.

More than 200 people gathered for the ceremony under a spring sun and crystal-clear sky on the corner of 21st Street and 33rd Road, in the Long Island City neighborhood where Christopher Santora grew up. Now, beneath the green street sign with white lettering reading "33rd Road" is a second placard: "Christopher Santora Place."

"These things are good, but they still bring back the tragedy," said Paul Rut, 45, of Engine Co. 262 nearby, who came to the observance with six others of the day crew.

Santora's body, found in the rubble two days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the trade center, was misidentified as the body of another firefighter, Jose Guadalupe, by the medical examiner's office. The two firefighters worked in the same firehouse, Engine Co. 54 in Hell's Kitchen, and were close colleagues.

Santora's body was given to the Guadalupe family and was buried. After DNA testing revealed the misidentification, Santora's body was exhumed in late November.

The Santora family held a funeral Dec. 1, and the firefighter was buried in St. Michael's Cemetery.

"He (Guadalupe) took my brother under his wings," Patricia Santora, 26, one of Christopher's two older sisters, said after the ceremony. "Knowing that it was him that got mixed up with my brother was a bit more comforting."

Younger sister Megan, 16, remembered the brother who played video games with her and paid her $ 10 to do his laundry. Older sister Jennifer, 27, reminisced about him sitting in the back of her classroom, reading the newspaper, as she taught at IS 10, where he had worked as a substitute teacher.

He loved to win at basketball, even if it meant cutting a few corners, the father recalled.

In September, a primary school under construction at 37th Avenue and 87th Street is to be named after Santora.

"They are not my son's favorite classes," Al Santora said, referring to the pre-K to second grades to be housed in the school.

"He liked the older kids better, but he can't be choosey," he added with a smile.