By Alex Ginsberg
Scott Kopytko left his job as a commodities trader in the South Tower of the World Trade Center in 1998 to realize his dream of becoming one of New York's bravest. Three years later, on Sept. 11, the 32-year-old firefighter died rushing to the aid of others in that very same building.
About 200 friends, relatives and colleagues did their best to forget that cruel irony as Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and state Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (D-Flushing) presided over the renaming of an intersection near Kissena Park in honor of the fallen firefighter.
“I know he is looking down on us today and always,” said Kopytko's sister, Christine, as she stood on the small island of grass at the confluence of 158th Street, Oak Avenue and Quince Avenue. “I'm sure Scott is very honored by this ceremony and all in attendance. He is no doubt full of pride for the sacrifice he and so many others made on Sept. 11.”
The intersection, nestled among picturesque streets and meticulously kept lawns just north of the Long Island Expressway, now bears the name “Firefighter Scott M. Kopytko Triangle.”
Calling Kopytko a “boy from the neighborhood,” Liu said the firefighter attended local schools, including St. Ann's School, PS 163, Francis Lewis High School and St. John's University. Kopytko was pursuing a master's degree in finance at St. John's when he died.
“We're here to honor his memory, his work and to ensure that all the young children and the families who are growing up in this beautiful neighborhood will never forget what Scott was all about.”
The Rev. George Pfundstein of St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church said a prayer for the newly christened triangle.
“May all who pass by remember his bravery, his goodness, his youth and all who died with him,” Pfundstein said.
Kopytko's mother, Joyce, who did not speak publicly at the ceremony, was visibly moved.
“I know Scott would have liked it,” she said of the renaming. “This is his little piece of property.”
Following the ceremony, colleagues from Ladder Co. 15 and Engine Co. 4 in downtown Manhattan remembered Kopytko for his skill with computers and finance, his unselfish nature and a low-key wit that was the source of much amusement to his friends.
“He'd do a lot and he wouldn't take credit for it,” said Firefighter Jimmy Beltrami.
Owing perhaps to the healing effect of the 20 months that have passed, the atmosphere throughout was decidedly upbeat. Grodenchik reflected that attitude in his brief remarks during the ceremony.
“I hope we will always remember that goodness does triumph over evil. Our being here today is a sure sign of that.”
Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.