Sunday, June 26, 2016

Editors yawn when Bergen man's long life takes tragic turn

Ioannis E. "Yani" Kapantais, 69, of Park Ridge was head baker at the Pompton Queen Diner in Pompton Plains before he was fatally injured by an out-of-control car last Sunday. These photos were taken from the diner's website.


When a husband, father of two and grandfather of four is struck down and fatally injured by an out-of-control car in Park Ridge, you'd think The Record's editors would work hard to bring readers the story.

In fact, Editor Deirdre Sykes has assigned her reporters to write hundreds of thousands of words about pedestrian deaths in recent years, including a column that appears on the Local front today (L-1).

But as in so many traffic fatalities that are dispensed with in a few paragraphs, the lazy, insensitive Sykes only treats Ioannis E. "Yani" Kapantais with contempt.

The 69-year-old Park Ridge man -- head baker at the Pompton Queen Diner on Route 23 in Pompton Plains -- was fatally injured last Sunday night when an out-of-control car mounted the Park Avenue sidewalk where he was walking with another man.

He died at Hackensack University Medical Center, where the other man, Moachia Hu, 64, of Montvale, remained in critical condition. 

Sykes didn't identify the men until Wednesday's edition, and then provided only the baker's name, age and the town where he lived.

19-year-old victims

Meanwhile, her reporters were churning out tens of thousands of words about two former athletes at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey who were killed when their luxury SUV hurtled off Route 287 and crashed into the woods last Sunday or early Monday.

Leo Vagias and Sam Cali, both 19, grew up together in Morris County. 

Vagias, who was driving, was using his seat belt. But Cali, the son of a police officer, wasn't and he was ejected from the vehicle.

Both attended college, where they were involved in athletics, so the extensive coverage included numerous interviews with grief-stricken friends and teammates, and culminated in Saturday's Page 1 story and photos on their separate funerals in Montville and Clifton.

Ioannis E. "Yani" Kapantais in a photo from the
website of Becker Funeral Home in Westwood.

Nothing on Yani

Sykes didn't bother covering the services for Kapantais on Friday at St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church in Paramus or mention his burial in George Washington Memorial Park.

His widow, Angeliki Kapantais, wasn't interviewed, and no reporter called the Pompton Queen Diner to ask about the victim.

A woman named Hanna wrote in the funeral home's guest book:

"I DO believe I had the pleasure of working with Ioannis at the Pompton Queen Diner about ten years ago. He was a jolly, sweet, and very kind man who showed me a thing or two of baking and always ALWAYS turned a frown into a smile.

"I enjoyed his spirit and this will live on."

Today's paper

Another pedestrian, this one killed by a tractor-trailer in downtown Teaneck on Saturday, gets the same short shrift as Kapantais (L-1).

Staff Writer Dave Sheingold identifies the victim as Felicia Sasso, who was 93 years old, but tells readers absolutely nothing else.

Sheingold mentions that on Christmas Day last year, a 59-year-old man was struck and killed on Cedar Lane, only a couple of blocks from where Sasso was struck.

And yet another pedestrian, a 21-year-old Ramsey man, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in a black Cadillac Escalade with New York plates early Saturday in Hoboken. 

Today's L-3 story contains no information on the victim, Zackhary Simmons.

Front page

The Record today continues a decade-long effort to pin wrongdoing on Michael Mordaga, former police director in Hackensack and former chief of detectives at the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office (A-1).

The allegations are based on a lawsuit filed by the family of a reputed mobster.

A second Page 1 story details how the Port Authority has botched the renovation of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in upper Manhattan (A-1).

Staff Writer Paul Berger and his predecessors on the Port Authority beat don't realize the massive bi-state agency has always treated bus and rail commuters with contempt.

Agency officials, including all of the cronies appointed by the governors of New York and New Jersey, deliberately neglect money-losing mass transit operations in favor of maximizing revenue from bridges, tunnels, ports and airports.

When is Berger going to come to his senses?

Local news?

Road Warrior John Cichowski is off in La-La Land today with a column on an "eggshell-like layer on the surface of [a] car which would then glue [a pedestrian] to the front of the vehicle, thereby preventing further injury" (L-1).

Only later do readers learn "this human flypaper system won't be ready for some time -- if ever" (L-6).

Wouldn't it be nice if Sykes, with the backing of North Jersey Media Group, developed a similar system for Cichowski, a reporter whose hundreds of errors in the past dozen years have rarely been corrected?

That way, facts might stick to him, and readers would be spared his flights of fantasy.

In fact, Cichowski has seemed to side with drivers, despite all the pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey.

He's even quoted some of them saying they'd like to run down jaywalkers to teach them a lesson.

When is he going to urge police to suspend the licenses of drivers who don't yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and then confiscate their cars on a second offense?


Check out the cartoon by Margulies, who has Governor Christie in a Robin Hood outfit threatening to take school funds from the poor and give them to the rich (O-2).

Indeed, he's been favoring the rich and warring against the middle and working classes since he took office in early 2010.

Yet, Sykes continues to publish flattering columns about Christie, like the one on Page 1 today.

Charles Stile claims Christie is serving as "a behind-the-scenes strategic guru" for wacko racist Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Friday night on HBO, satirist Bill Maher, noting the Trump campaign is having trouble raising money, said that to make matters worse, Christie has eaten all of the remaining Trump Steaks.

Eye on The Record
will return in two weeks

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