The city unveiled a street sign at 97th street and West End Avenue Wednesday to honor Cooper Stock, the 9-year-old hit and killed by a taxi driver while crossing that block in January 2014. Cooper’s friends from the Calhoun School were there to honor him and to advocate for better street safety on the Upper West Side.
Cooper’s mother Dana Lerner spoke out at the naming ceremony, addressing her son.
“Now your name is on the street where you lived for nine years,” Lerner said. “It is here for the worst possible reason. What people need to understand when they look at this sign is that you were the innocent victim of the reckless driving epidemic.”
Cooper’s friends remembered him as a kid with a great sense of humor and a love for basketball and Shirley Temple.
Much has happened in response to Cooper’s death. West End Avenue was redesigned from 72nd street to 107th to attempt to slow traffic, the most notorious intersections now have concrete medians and new turning rules, and police have begun to increase ticketing for driving infractions like failure to yield. “Cooper’s Law” forces the TLC to suspend cabbies’ licenses if they kill or injure pedestrians or bicyclists who have the right of way. Families of people killed by drivers, including Cooper’s family, have organized to force action.
But advocates say that the city and community board still have a ways to go, and police and the district attorney still treat virtually all deadly crashes as “accidents” even when the driver is at fault. At a Tuesday Community Board meeting, students spoke out about the issue. The taxi driver who hit Cooper received a $580 fine and no jail time.