UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — Chanting their beloved classmate’s name, 4th graders from the Calhoun School marched in memory of Cooper Stock on Wednesday, making it their mission to put careless drivers on notice.
They walked along Riverside Drive, and up West End Avenue to 97th Street. That’s where the 9-year-old boy was struck and killed by a taxi driver who failed to yield, as the child and his dad were crossing the street in the crosswalk.
“It makes a human life seem meaningless if all you get is a traffic ticket and you kill a 9-year-old boy,” said Dana Lerner, Cooper’s mom.
A still grieving Dana Lerner found the strength after the death of Cooper in January of 2014 to push for tougher penalties, and worked with City Council member to create Cooper’s Law, which went into effect on Sept. 21, 2014. It is one of 11 bills in Mayor de Blasio’s 2014 Vision Zero package.
“What Cooper’s Law does, is it says that if a TLC licensed driver kills or critically injures somebody, their TLC license will be suspended, and upon due process, if they’re found guilty, it will be revoked permanently,” explained Council Member Rosenthal.
Before a large gathering of students, parents, friends and family members, Cooper Stock Way, the secondary street name for the northwest corner of 97th Street and West End Avenue, was unveiled.
“The most important thing to me is when people see Cooper Stock Way that they slow down, tell somebody about it, that they think about the fact that an innocent little boy was killed. He was following the law. It never should have happened,” said Dana Lerner choking back tears.
In the crowd was Sofia Russo, whose daughter Ariel was just 4-years-old when she lost her life in the very same Upper West Side neighborhood 2 years ago to an unlicensed driver speeding away from cops.
The young Calhoun students, who are being taught how to cross busy streets as part of their curriculum, were moved by Wednesday’s events, and thoughts of Cooper.
“I feel like I know him even closer through this. And I feel like even though he’s not here, he will always be with us,” said Olivia, a Calhoun 4th grader.