The intersection of 73rd Place and 57th Avenue is now named after Lieutenant Mario Bastidas, a paramedic and 26-year veteran of the FDNY Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
Bastidas died on April 1 due to cancer related to an illness linked to the aftermath of September 11. He was 55 years old.
Last Wednesday, dozens of FDNY officials and community members unveiled the red street sign. The block on 73rd Place was where Bastidas and his wife, Penelope, bought their first home.
“Mario was a great guy, well-respected and financially astute,” said EMS Chief James Booth. “He is missed by everybody in the Fire Department.
“When people drive down this block and they look at the street sign, they will wonder who Lieutenant Mario Bastidas was,” Booth added. “Maybe they’ll take the time and learn about what a great man he was, and the sacrifice he made to the city of New York.”
Penelope Bastidas recalled that when her husband was still alive and battling cancer, she told him she wanted to name a street after him. But he told her it was “too much to ask for.”
“My Mario was always the picture of humbleness,” she said.
Speaking through tears, Bastidas said Maspeth has always been special to her family “from the very beginning.” It’s where they moved into their first apartment together, just five blocks from 73rd Place.
After living in the apartment for two years, they bought their first home, and began their “love story.”
The August 15th ceremony also had special meaning for Bastidas because it represented the 28th anniversary of the day they got married.
“Happy wedding anniversary to the love of my life, Lieutenant Mario Bastidas,” she said through tears. “We will continue honoring your legacy. My love, my sunshine, we will meet again.”
Councilman Robert Holden sponsored legislation to make the street co-naming possible. He said he was proud to pay tribute to a hero who served honorably with commitment and dedication.
Holden said after the attacks on September 11, 2001, Bastidas spent “countless hours” at Ground Zero to help in the search, rescue and recovery efforts.
But he was also exposed to the toxins in the air at the site, which led him to develop an aggressive type of cancer.
According to the councilman, Bastidas was so committed to his job that even after having chemotherapy, he insisted on going to work.
“He could hardly walk, and yet, he was so dedicated,” Holden said. “He’s unbelievable. He’ll always be in our hearts.”
Bastidas said her late husband got what he deserved after making the “ultimate sacrifice” for his city. She said he will be remembered as a person who always gave and helped others.
“It means, for me, that he has not been forgotten,” she said. “I know from heaven, he’s very happy.”