Riverhead will pay tribute to two fallen heroes next week by renaming and designating streets after them.
The town board will vote at its April 16 meeting to memorialize slain Jamesport native and NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen by giving South Jamesport Avenue in Jamesport the honorary designation of "Det. Brian Simonsen Way."
Simonsen, 42, was killed by friendly fire on Feb. 12 while responding to an attempted robbery in Richmond Hill, Queens. The Calverton resident left a deep and warm impression on people as a beloved member of the Jamesport community, said William C. Van Helmond, president of the Greater Jamesport Civic Association.
“People around here, they called him ‘Smiles,’ " Van Helmond said Thursday in an interview. "He always had a smile on his face. He was always a happy guy.”
Though Van Helmond had met Simonsen only a few times, he said many of his civic group’s members, especially seniors, knew Simonsen when he was growing up in Jamesport. His sudden death, Van Helmond said, was a “tragic” one that moved his group to act.
The civic group, along with the Jamesport Fire Department and other local groups and individuals, asked Riverhead officials to rename the street after him across from where Simonsen was buried, at Jamesport Cemetery.
Jamesport Fire Department officials did not return requests for comment Thursday.
Riverhead Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith said the honorary designation was the quickest way to pay tribute to Simonsen because permanently renaming the street would require approval from all of the street’s residents.
That distinction, however, will go to Tech. Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs, a Riverhead High School graduate who died on March 15, 2018, in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq with the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based in Westhampton Beach. Briggs, 30, lived in Port Jefferson Station but grew up in Riverhead and was one of four Guardsmen killed in the crash.
The process of permanently renaming Lewis Street in Riverhead to “Dashan J. Briggs Way” — which the board will also vote on at its April 16 meeting — took about a year from the time Briggs’ family requested the permanent renaming, Jens-Smith said.