Donnette Sanz made her living directing traffic on the streets of the Bronx, and for the foreseeable future, anyone crossing the last street she walked will know her name.
On Monday, August 15 the intersection of East 188th Street and Webster Avenue was officially ceremonially named Donnette and Sean Sanz Place.
Donnette, a police traffic enforcement agent, was seven months pregnant with Sean and on her lunch break on August 15, 2008 when she was struck by a van with faulty brakes that was careening down Webster. She was thrown in the air and became pinned underneath a mini school bus. Thirty co-workers and passersby came to her aid to lift the bus. She was rushed to the hospital, where she delivered Sean prematurely, but she died shortly thereafter.
Sean Sanz survived for only a week.
“I heard the van squeaking as it came down the street,,” said former coworker Angel Lozada, who witnessed the tragedy.
He and a slew of others rushed over to the location to help lift the bus off of Sanz.
The van’s driver was convicted of criminally negligent homicide and served six months in prison.
Sanz was a member of the CWA Local 1182, which pushed for three years for the street renaming.
Union president James Huntley said the honor was an overdue acknowledgement of the traffic enforcement profession.
“We must never allow that service to be forgotten,” he said at the sign unveiling, which was attended by hundreds of his fellow officers.
Sanz, born McLean, moved to the Bronx from Jamaica in 1999 as a 24-year-old and married Grand Concourse resident Rafael Sanz in 2004.
“Three years ago I got the worst phone call that a man can ever get,” said Rafael. “That my wife, who was pregnant with my son, was run over.
“But thanks to so many people, who lifted the bus up, I was able to hold my son one time,” he said.
Like Huntley, Sanz said he hoped the street co-naming would help average citizens appreciate traffic enforcement agents.
About ten of Sanz’ immediately family members made the trip from Jamaica for the unveiling.
“When we unveil this sign, we’re sending a message,” Councilman Joel Rivera said at the ceremony. “That if you contribute to New York City, you will be recognized.”