Salvatore “Sal” Polizzi, a 13-year-old Howard Beach boy who died in a biking accident in Pennsylvania over Memorial Day weekend, was remembered as a fountain of energy who doted on his friends and family and loved science and math.
“Sal was a great kid,” said Nina DeBlasio, the parent coordinator at PS 207, where Salvatore went to school. “He was a kid who always came to school, did his best, had a lot of friends, and never looked for trouble.”
Sal died in a dirt bike accident on the evening of May 26, while on a vacation with his father, also named Salvatore Polizzi, in Pennsylvania. The elder Salvatore Polizzi owns Trackside Auto Repair and Collision, and the teenager’s mother is Lysa King, who manages Bruno’s Ristorante in Howard Beach.
A wake was held last Thursday at Romanelli’s in Ozone Park, and the funeral took place Friday at Our Lady of Grace Church.
“Our hearts are broken,” DeBlasio said. “The kids cry their hearts out. They look to us for the answers, and I just don’t have this answer. They ask us why, and I have to look at a 12-year-old, 13-year-old, and say, ‘I don’t know why.’”
Sal, a good student with a penchant for science, will be remembered at events throughout the end of the year, including at the school’s graduation on June 20 at Beach Channel High School. Students are expected to release balloons in Sal’s memory after the graduation ceremony.
“We’re just going to look to getting through all the eighth grade activities,” DeBlasio said on Wednesday. “Tonight is the eighth-grade dance, which Sal was really looking forward to.”
PS 207 pupils have already hung ribbons outside the school as a tribute to their friend.
“We’ll definitely be taking Sal’s memory with us along every step of the way,” DeBlasio said. “We’re here to support his mom and his family. This has rocked the school, and it rocked the community.”
School officials have been helping students work through their grief, DeBlasio said.
“We have to tell the kids that we don’t know when our life is going to end,” she said. “We’re trying to make it a teachable moment —don’t say bad things, don’t write bad things on Facebook, because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Kids think they’re invincible, but you may not get the next day to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ They’re having to learn that a little too young.’”
DeBlasio also emphasized how much Sal enjoyed riding, and fixing, his dirt bike —and how much it meant to him to spend time with his father doing what he loved.
“He loved going to Pennsylvania; he loved dirt bikes,” DeBlasio said.
While there is no answer as to why this happened, DeBlasio said Sal will live on through his friends and family.
“Like the priest said at his Mass, sometimes it doesn’t matter the years that you have on Earth, it’s the quality of your life that counts,” DeBlasio said. “Sal touched many —he certainly touched my heart, and the hearts of his friends.”