We need reminders amid our hectic lives of what we can lose so easily if we’re not careful, which is why West New York police now have a new cruiser dedicated to catching speeders, thanks to the parents of Rebeka Verea, killed on graduation night five years ago in a crash on West Side Avenue in North Bergen.
“We are so proud and so happy” about the new stealth vehicle, said Lourdes Vega, who, with her husband, created the “Say Yes to Life” program operated by their Rebeka Verea Foundation.
She and her husband, Dr. Jorge L. Verea, chief medical officer of the North Hudson Community Action Corp., created the foundation after the 18-year-old Cliffside High School senior was killed the night of June 20, 2005. She was a passenger in a car that smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer on the dangerous stretch of road.
To describe what the impact did to her would insensitively disrespect her memory. For those who know, however, it is a frightening, painful image that can never be forgotten.
For that reason, the Vereas hope to to help educate people about the dangers of drinking and driving. Although their roots are in Hudson and eastern Bergen, they have generously operated programs in towns throughout North Jersey and elsewhere, trying to transform their never-ending grief into protection for others. They have donated radar detectors and other equipment to area police; they have conducted seminars and other presentations featuring guest speakers. Their efforts truly have been tireless.
The Vereas, with Mayor Sal Vega
West New York Mayor Sal Vega, one of the foundation’s directors, commended the couple for “putting their personal pain aside to help young people.”
With its lights tucked behind the grill, West New York’s new stealth car can blend more easily into traffic without lawbreakers noticing. Police said they will use the 2009 gray Dodge Charger for radar and DUI enforcement — and, in turn, they hope, save lives.
For more information about the Rebeka Verea Foundation, call 201.758.9600 or visit: www.rebekavereafoundation.org