Belmont street corner dedicated to late teen hero who saved child from a burning building

Councilman Ritchie Torres and the Silverio family held a street renaming ceremony where the corner of Crotona Avenue and Grote Street in Belmont, which was dedicated to Lucas Silverio
Photos by Jason Cohen

Real life heroes walk among everyday people and some of them sacrifice their entire lives to help others. Earlier this month, the Belmont community honored one of their local heroes.

In 2019, Lucas Silverio, then 19-years-old, ran into a burning apartment building attempting to save 3-year-old Yasleen McDonald from the fire. Silverio tragically died from third-degree burns three days after rescuing McDonald, who also succumbed to her injuries.

On Nov. 6, which would have been Silverio’s 21st birthday, Councilman Ritchie Torres and the Silverio family held a street renaming ceremony on the corner of Crotona Avenue and Grote Street in Belmont, which will now be known as Lucas Yoaldy Silverio Mendoza Way.

As tears rolled down the cheeks of loved ones, Jesse Alvarez spoke proudly about his cousin’s heroic efforts.

“In his final moments in life he was a hero, just like Superman, just like Batman,” Alvarez said. “He went into danger not knowing what he was going into, only caring about saving a life and making sure the other person that needed help got the help they got.”

He described him as selfless, caring, generous and loving. Alvarez recalled how his cousin could have left the building, but that was not the type of person he was.

Silverio attended P.S. 118, the High School for Economics and Finance, and was a student at Bronx Community College. The son of Victor Jose and Mercedes, the teen had dreams of being a physical therapist.

Councilman Torres called Silverio’s actions “truly remarkable.”

“For Lucas, the cry of a 3-year-old girl was a call to action,” Torres said. “A time for compassion and courage. How many of us would have done what Lucas did? He was one of a kind. He was a hero in the truest sense of the word.”

Torres hoped people would always remember the bravery Silverio displayed last year.

“I’m honored to rename Crotona Avenue and Grote Street in honor of Lucas Silverio,” Torres said. “My commitment to the family and to the community is his name and his heroism will never be forgotten.”

In addition to his desire to be a physical therapist, Silverio had a passion for literacy. He worked at the Bronx Library Center and  the President of the NY Public Library Anthony Marx described the young man as “one of a kind.”

Marx added that Silverio was a “rare diamond” and wished more people were like him.

“When it feels like the nation is teetering on some form of the abyss, when we all feel the pressure in our homes, it’s a time when we all need to be inspired by Lucas,” Marx said.

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