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Nov 17, 2011 3:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Familes Of Accident Victims Share Stories, Make Pleads To Improve Safety On County Road 111

Nov 22, 2011 12:04 PM

Emotions ran high at times on Monday night as more than 100 people gathered at the Eastport South Manor Junior-Senior High School to discuss ways to improve safety and reduce accidents on County Road 111—the site of several fatal crashes over the years and, most recently, one that claimed the life of an Eastport Elementary School student and his mother.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour meeting, concerned residents listened to testimonials given by family members of accident victims, including a tearful presentation by Danielle Chavez—the cousin of 30-year-old Keri Trinka of Manorville who, along with her 7-year-old son Jason, died in a car accident on October 8. Jason’s younger siblings—Marialena, 4, and Christopher, 2— also were seriously injured in the crash.

Wiping tears, Ms. Chavez told attendees that, even though she works in the area, she will never again drive on County Road 111. She then begged to know why it took the death of two of her family members for Suffolk County officials to finally take a closer look at the four-lane highway.

“I don’t want this to ever happen to anybody else,” Ms. Chavez said. “It doesn’t have to. I thank everyone for coming together—it is just too late. This should have happened years ago.”

Monday’s meeting, which also featured local politicians and representatives from Suffolk County—including its police department and Department of Public Works—was intended to discuss potential fixes that could slow drivers down and keep motorists safe. County Road 111 links the Long Island Expressway with Sunrise Highway and even though the speed limit varies between 45 mph and 55 mph, most in attendance noted that drivers often travel in excess of 70 mph.

The meeting began with a PowerPoint presentation by Jonathan Cohen. Mr. Cohen, a member of the newly formed safety committee for the Manorville Chamber of Commerce, said he took it upon himself to investigate exactly how dangerous it is to drive on County Road 111. He shared video that he took with a camera mounted on the dashboard of his car and labeled what he believed to be the most dangerous spots on the highway.

According to Mr. Cohen, the most dangerous sections are where it intersects with Bauer and Chapman avenues, Halsey Manor Road, Ocean View Drive and Gordon Street. All of the intersections feature either traffic signals or stop signs, though those devices have not done enough to improve safety, he said.

Mr. Cohen’s main recommendations included: prohibiting left turns at certain intersections; converting the blinking traffic light at the intersection of Halsey Manor Road—near the new fire department substation—into a regular signal; and installing medians along certain parts of the road to stop drivers from crossing several lanes of traffic to access the northbound lanes.

“A powerful activism has inspired this community,” Mr. Cohen said to start his presentation. “The most important thing is that we all want to be safe.”

According to statistics provided by the Suffolk County Police Department, between January 1, 2010, and October 31, 2011, there have been 170 car accidents—including several fatal ones—along County Road 111. Mr. Cohen stated that on a typical August day, when traffic is usually at its peak, an average of 81,300 cars drive on the road.

By making the subtle changes he is suggesting, Mr. Cohen said he hopes to one day drive on the highway without having to rely on “the grace of God.”

Another powerful presentation was given by Manorville resident Dr. Peter Angelo, a health sciences professor at Stony Brook University. His father, Vincent, who also lived in the community, died in a car accident on County Road 111 in October 2008.

According to Dr. Angelo, his father died while attempting to cross County Road 111 from Gordon Street; he said a car traveling 55 mph smashed into his father’s vehicle, pushing it at least 100 feet.

“I cannot tell you the trauma that I have gone through,” Dr. Angelo said while holding up a photo of his late father, a former Marine and a retired member of the Fire Department of New York. “I will never get over it.”

His sister, Karen, also blamed the highway for her father’s death. “If that road had been changed, he would not have died,” she said. “I take that road every day and I feel like I am taking my life in my own hands.”

Following the testimonials, a petition containing 4,500 signatures was presented to Suffolk County Legislator Edward Romaine requesting that the county improve the safety of motorists along County Road 111.

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Dangerous road. People think it's a freeway and drive 75-80 mph, not realizing there are intersections. I haven't made a left from Eastport Manor Road for ages now, fearing exactly what happened to that minivan. I go along CR 51 to the intersection with CR 111 and make the left from there - even though it takes me out of my way.
By rburger (82), Remsenburg on Nov 17, 11 4:02 PM
First things First cut back all those intersections from all trees and brush .Remove all the center trees and brush between the north and south lanes on 111 just like the southern most part of the roadway is .I just dont know why this was never done originally .This alone would create a much safer roadway and save lives ITS THAT SIMPLE . God forbid anyone has a dangerous situation again they could easily look and see if another vehicle is coming . Reaction time would be greatly increased. God ...more
By baymen (26), hamptonbays on Nov 17, 11 4:54 PM
No left turns to enter-use right turns and u-turns at designated spots.
By EastEnd68 (888), Westhampton on Nov 17, 11 5:39 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Nov 17, 11 10:54 PM
Off topic? How is giving a history of the road off topic?
By itsamazing (224), Southampton on Nov 20, 11 3:53 PM