2012-06-28 / Other News

Memorial Service Remembers 17-year-Old Jet Skier

By Sam Akhtar
Photos by Sam Akhtar

Paul’s mother Joann Paul’s mother Joann Six years ago, Joann Zaccaria’s teenage son, Paul, was killed when the jet ski he was riding on in Mill Basin waters, off National Drive, crashed into another jet skier.

Gone but not forgotten, friends, family, and community members gathered for a wreath laying ceremony on Saturday evening to honor the memory of the forever 17, Paul Zaccaria.

Ms. Zaccaria addressed the crowd by thanking everyone in attendance and recapped the tragic events leading to her son’s death. The mother’s passion soon boiled over as she recalled the events of the manslaughter trial of Aristotle Plagianakos, the man she holds responsible. She spoke of the “circus like” atmosphere of the trial, eventually leading to Plagianakos’ acquittal.

As she delivered her passionate remarks, Ms. Zaccaria acknowledged the tireless efforts of Rolling Thunder – a non-profit organization whose work revolves around veterans and POWs. Their dedication to the Zaccaria family has been unyielding. As a token of her appreciation, Paul’s mother presented New York State Director and Chapter 1 President Ray Robertson with two donations—one from the gathering and one from herself.

Collage with photos of the late Paul Zaccaria Collage with photos of the late Paul Zaccaria Since Paul’s death, the Zaccaria family has continued to keep his memory alive through their advocacy for change in the law. Under current law, a person under 18 may purchase a jet ski without parental permission. Ms. Zaccaria thanked 59th District Assemblyman Alan Maisel, for his continued efforts in having the law changed to require parental involvement when a minor wants to purchase a jet ski.

“While the worst thing a parent can think of is losing a child; to remember your son is wonderful,” Maisel told the crowd.

Members of Rolling Thunder place wreath in water Members of Rolling Thunder place wreath in water Just before the wreath was placed on the water, Joann made a special point to thank Susan McCormack, secretary of Rolling Thunder. Even though they did not know each other prior to Paul’s death, the two have become friends.

Ms. McCormack spoke of the mural on Avenue U and Mill Avenue that Joann Zaccaria commissioned. Even that has become its own labor of love, as the mural is currently whitewashed.

“He (artist Joe Idart) promised me it would be done by now,” Ms. Zaccaria told the Canarsie Courier. First painted in the fall of 2006, the mural had to be redone due to being weathered away. The second time it was done, “Paul looked like a monster,” Ms. McCormack said. Unsatisfied with her son’s image on the mural, Ms. Zaccaria paid additional money to have it re-done. As of yet, and almost $3,500 later, the mural remains unfinished.

As the wreath was placed and floated on the water, the crowd, perched on the family’s backyard deck, observed a moment of silence. Gone but not forgotten, Paul Zaccaria’s memory continues to live on in the hearts of those who knew him, and most importantly his mother, Joann.

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