Christopher Santora Place

The following was written by Christopher's sister, Patricia Cardona:

Christopher grew up always wanting to follow in his father's footsteps. He wanted to be a firefighter. While in school, he learned that to be a firefighter, you would need to take the test and then wait to be called. He was attending Queens College, and decided as a backup plan, he would get an education degree so he could teach. He had a passion for history and social studies. He favored the older kids.

He graduated from Queens College with a teaching certificate in middle school social studies. He got his foot in the door as a substitute teacher in the middle schools of District 30. He worked at PS 2, IS 10 and IS 141. He was offered a permanent position teaching middle school social studies at IS 10, and he turned it down because he had gotten called to the academy of the FDNY. He was on his way to becoming a firefighter.

He was technically on the job for eight months as a trainee.("probie"). He was then asked where he wanted to be stationed and was given a choice since his father had just retired as a Deputy Chief of the FDNY. He was well-respected and so they wanted to grant his son a choice. Christopher chose midtown Manhattan. He wanted action. This house [Engine 54] is known as one of the busiest firehouses in all the five boroughs. He had never been to a fire prior to 9/11. He was at that firehouse for only a couple of months. The morning of 9/11, he was expected to be off duty at 8:30 a.m. The bell rang, and he jumped on board, eager to go to his first big fire. He was excited (as told to us by his housemates). He re-suited up and jumped on board along with 14 other guys (between the two trucks). He never came home. Meanwhile my parents, who were at home in Long Island City (you could see the Twin Towers from their high rise), got a call from his fire station lieutenant, asking him to come to work. My father reported that he never came home. It was then that they realized that he had gone down to the site. My father, with all his experience, had looked out the window and knew that the towers would fall by the way that they were burning. My parents watched the burning buildings from their window, not knowing that their son was there and had perished.

Meanwhile, I was teaching at a Jackson Heights school that morning (PS 149) and was watching the events on the TV. It was only that evening when he didn’t come home that we realized he was there. We called hospitals, put up signs and held out hope that he was trapped and would be found. Fifteen guys never came home from his house -- the biggest loss out of any firehouse in the five boroughs. My parents attended many funerals and memorials from his firehouse, as well as all the people my dad knew.

A few days after 9/11, they recovered the body of a member of his firehouse, Jose Guadalupe. Jose was a 6-foot, dark-skinned Hispanic male. My parents attended his funeral. The next few months, they attended every funeral and memorial service. We still had not recovered Christopher. In December, a few weeks before Christmas, my parents were visited by the Coroner of the City of New York. They admitted to making a huge mistake. Jose was misidentified. The body that was buried as Jose Guadalupe was in fact Christopher Santora. (Christopher was 5’8", Caucasian with blue eyes.) According to them, they were unrecognizable. They were identifying them based only on a rare neck bone anomaly that coincidentally both had. The body had to be exhumed, and we finally had Christopher’s remains. We had a funeral for him, and he is buried at St. Michael's Cemetery in Queens. Jose was never found.

A few months later, Dr. Angelo Gimondo (former District 30 superintendent) reached out to my parents. D30 wanted to build a school and name it for a fallen firefighter of 9/11. When they learned that Christopher taught in D30, they knew they wanted to name it for him. My parents agreed. They began building the school, and it was scheduled to open in September of 2002. I put in an application to transfer. I was interviewed and released from my school, and I have been there ever since. The father of one of the newly hired teachers, Rani Skopelitis, was a carpenter for trade. He built the case in the lobby of the school which has Christopher’s firefighter uniform. They had a big dedication and opening ceremony, and we are still here today at the FF Christopher A. Santora School, PS 222 [in Jackson Heights].

Editor's note: Christopher Santora Place is located near the neighborhood basketball courts where Santora played as a child.


Personal testimony of Patricia Cardona, received January 2023.

Gil Tauber, "NYC Honorary Street Names," accessed June 15, 2022,

Rafter, Domenick, "(2001) Santora, firefighter, dies in 9/11 attacks," Queens Chronicle, November 13, 2013,

"Christopher Santora memorial,",