Ant and Sam
By Juan Garcia
When Anthony Ureña discovered that Sampson, a Dogo Argentino, was going to be sent to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, he decided to adopt him. Sampson, “Sam,” was almost grown. Distressed, Anthony begged his mother to let him adopt the dog. From that point on, Sam went everywhere with Anthony, or “Ant” as he was known to his family.
Ureña, a Lehman College student, was found dead in Hudson River at the age of 23 on Christmas Day, 2015. To this day, the authorities don’t know exactly how he died. He was last seen leaving Cliff, a nightclub in Inwood. At Lehman College Anthony was studying accounting and planned to pursue a Masters in Accounting after graduating. He loved numbers, his mother explains.
Another of Ureña’s pursuits was learning bachata, a traditional Dominican style of dance. His family took great pleasure in watching his attempts at bachata and admired his resilience, despite his inability to master the form. (He had two left feet, says his mother, but kept at it — he wanted to learn how to dance to please his paternal grandmother).
Ant was a lively soul who always had a smile on his face, say his family and friends. “When he and I hung out we would always have fun and a lot of laughs,” said Eric Crispin, Ureña’s best friend. “Anthony was someone destined for greatness. I learned a lot from my time with him.” His cousin Charissa Medrano said she always felt safe when he was around. “He was a protector, one who would always look out for his loved ones,” she said. “Ant always held his head high and always confidently expressed his thoughts.”
He was the third child in a family of four siblings. According to his mother, Judith Lopez, Saint Anthony visited her in a dream when she was pregnant and told her that she should baptize her baby boy Anthony. He was born in Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital on September 12, 1992, when the clock struck 11:31 p.m.
“We had to stay in the hospital for five days,” said Lopez. “When we were discharged, we took the elevator. Anthony had his eyes wide open and a lady thought that he was a two-month-old baby. When I told her that he was only five days, she said ‘OMG he is going to be someone special’ because he was moving his head like he understood what was said in the elevator.”
As a child, Anthony entertained himself by playing with Batman and Superman action figures. He loved karate and was very often awarded trophies in competitions, which he liked to show off, says his mother. Anthony also played baseball.
He graduated from Bronx Community College and was studying to become a certified public accountant at Lehman College when he died. He continued to live with his family at home in Washington Heights, savoring his mother’s oxtail soup and cooking medium well-done steak with vegetables and potatoes for himself and Sam before heading off to school.
Weekends he spent with his family. Sometimes he would sit with his mother in the bedroom and talk about anything. If they had free time, Anthony would invite his mother for a walk around the Fort Tryon Park with Sam. Once they went to see Fast and Furious 6 together. On the way back home, they ordered out for some food, which was enough to make a day memorable, says his mother, who prides herself on cooking for her kids. Birthdays are also a special occasion in the house and were celebrated with parties, homemade dinner, a cake and games.
“What I am going to miss the most is our conversations,” says Ashley Lopez, 19, Ureña’s little sister. Sometimes their conversations were extremely funny and silly, she says. At times they got a little emotional. Above all Lopez’s favorite talk was when they’d discuss the future. She adds that she hopes to see him in the next life.