Ariel Russo memorialized with street sign at scene of fatal police chase

Posted at 11:16 PM, Oct 02, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-02 23:16:25-04

Sofia Russo’s story is one no parent should ever have to tell.

But her daughter, four-year-old Ariel is one step closer to being memorialized, thanks in part to an impassioned address in front of Community Board 7 Wednesday night.

“It’s really important to me because I feel like it will illuminate this corner that is so dark for so many of us,” said Sofia Ariel.

The unanimous vote involved renaming the intersection of 97 Street and Amsterdam Avenue “Ariel Russo Way.”

The vote was unanimous.

“I thought it was very touching, very warm, very heartfelt. I have a daughter. It could have been my daughter. It was a no brainer for me,” said Community Board member Isaac Booker.

The little girl’s grandmother was walking her to school back in June, when 17-year-old Franklyn Reyes plowed into them while trying to get away from police at the corner.

Making matters worse, there’s an ongoing investigation into a four-minute delay to dispatch the ambulance.

“We haven’t gotten any answers as to why there was a four-minute delay. Why did they have to chase this kid? It’s everybody’s fault. I’m not going to take the heat off of him and say it’s all the NYPD’s fault. It’s the combination of everything,” said Ariel’s father Alan.

Convincing the community board to vote in favor of renaming the scene of the crash in honor of little Ariel is clearly an important victory for her parents. But the fight is not over, and it will end in a courtroom.

Defense Attorney Sanford Rubenstein is representing the family in a civil suit against the city.

“They were chasing, at a high speed, in a school zone. This should not be happening at all in the city. This is reckless. Another thing, the ambulance was not dispatched for four minutes. That is unacceptable,” said Rubenstein.

Meantime, Sofia says she is still in mourning, says she is still counting on her community for emotional support.

“I just can’t stop saying that I feel like my community is letting us lean on them. Like, literally, the song, “Lean on me”, that they’re there for us in this time, when we’re not strong,” said Sofia.

The family says its hopeful the community board’s unanimous vote will send a strong message to the city council, which is expected to vote on the resolution.