Astoria street co-named for Sept. 11 hero

By Bill Parry

A Sept. 11 hero was honored in Astoria just days ahead of the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.

The stretch of 29th Street between 21st Avenue and Ditmars Boulevard was co-named Lieutenant Theodore Leoutsakos Way in memory of the late Astoria resident and New York State court officer who died of Sept. 11th-related cancer in 2015.

“We are proud to commemorate Lieutenant Theodore Leoutsakos’ contribution to our city with this street co-naming,” City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Leoutsakos’ assistance at the World Trade Center rubble pile during the Sept. 11th rescue efforts demonstrated his sacrifice to our community. We honor him for his dedication and service.”

Leoutsakos was a first responder who commandeered a jury van and was one of the first to arrive at the North Tower as the South Tower collapsed. He dug himself out and rescued fellow court officers and firefighters when the second tower fell.

He was also a Vietnam veteran who was wounded in the Tet Offensive, according to state Court Officers Academy Chief Joseph Baccallieri, who called him a “true American hero” who served his country with pride and distinction. Leoutsakos succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 65.

“We are so honored to have the street my family has lived on for 47 years co-named in our father’s honor,” said Stacey Leoutsakos, who was joined by sisters Cynthia and Stephanie. “Our father was a man who believed in serving community and country.”

Leoutsakos and thousands of other Sept. 11 first responders and survivors will be honored with a monument, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on the 15th anniversary of the attacks. The memorial will pay tribute to those who lost their lives as well as those who suffer from health issues related to the aftermath of the attacks.

“Fifteen years ago, New York’s first responders rushed into two towers engulfed in flames to save the lives of others without hesitation and then remained there for months to rebuild Lower Manhattan with downtown residents and workers,” Cuomo said. “Their selflessness and bravery embodies the spirit of America and should never be forgotten. This monument will rightly serve as an eternal reminder of the courage, sacrifice and bravery demonstrated by our first responders and survivors in the aftermath of 9/11, and ensure that their legacy will never be forgotten.”

The announcement came just two days after the three lead sponsors of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act sent a letter asking the governor for his support for such a monument. The letter was co-signed by U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria), Peter King (R-LI) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) and.

“I am very pleased that the governor has heeded our call and is beginning the process to build a memorial to honor the men and women we’ve lost since 9/11 and the thousands more who are dealing with the health effects of being exposed to Ground Zero toxins,” Maloney said. “This new memorial will be another step in our efforts to keep our promise to never forget.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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