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Apr 29, 2009 5:02 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton man dies after losing control of SUV on Flanders Road

Apr 29, 2009 5:02 PM

A Westhampton man was killed in a single-car accident on Flanders Road Monday afternoon after authorities said he lost control of his SUV while attempting to avoid hitting another car, one that had stopped in the middle of the road so that the driver could offer assistance to a disabled car in the opposite lane.

Southampton Town Police said that 25-year-old Hugo Lopez-Abbac was killed after losing control of his 1997 Ford, causing it to roll over at least five times before coming to a rest in the southbound lane of Flanders Road. He had to be extracted from the vehicle by volunteers with the Flanders Fire Department.

Mr. Lopez-Abbac was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. His body was transported to the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office in Hauppauge where an autopsy will be performed. Police said he was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.

One of the two passengers in Mr. Lopez-Abbac’s SUV, 19-year-old Avelino Cruz of Riverhead, was ejected from the vehicle as it rolled; he was transported via Suffolk County Police helicopter to the Stony Brook University Medical Center. Hospital representatives did not release his condition.

A second passenger, 28-year-old Juan Diaz of Aquebogue, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead by the Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance. A spokesman for Peconic Bay said that, as of Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Diaz was no longer a patient at the hospital.

Neither passenger was wearing a seat belt, according to police.

Witnesses told police that Mr. Lopez-Abbac was traveling north on Flanders Road, near the intersection of Red Creek Road in Flanders, at around 3:40 p.m. when he swerved to avoid another car that had stopped in the middle of the northbound lane. That driver, who was not identified by police, 
had stopped to ask the driver of a third car, which had broken down on shoulder of the southbound lane, if he or she required assistance. Police said that those two drivers did not know each other.

The driver of the vehicle in the northbound lane had stopped several seconds before Mr. Lopez-Abbac approached from behind at a high rate of speed, according to police. “He slowed down when there was nobody behind him,” Detective Sergeant Randy Hintze of the Southampton Town Police said of the first driver.

Det. Sgt. Hintze said that Mr. Lopez-Abbac was driving faster than the posted 55-mph speed limit, though detectives could not say exactly how fast he was traveling at the time of the accident.

The SUV rolled over at least five times before landing on its roof, sustaining major damage to its top and some damage to its side. Police said that the Ford SUV did not strike any other vehicles before coming to a rest in the southbound lane of Flanders Road.

Det. Sgt. Hintze said that the SUV was traveling too fast to stop in time and was also found to have two defective tires following a routine police inspection. The men were returning home from work at the time, according to police.

Town Police are still investigating whether or not the driver who was stopped in the northbound lane could possibly be charged in the fatal accident. The Ford SUV was the only vehicle that was impounded at the scene for a safety check.

Calls to the Flanders Fire Department were deferred to Chief Gilmon Gagnon. When reached Tuesday morning, Chief Gagnon declined to comment on the accident.

The section of Flanders Road between Longneck Boulevard and Red Creek Road was closed for about three hours on Monday afternoon while police continued their investigation.

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There's a bad bend in the road in that area. A school mates brother was killed in a car accident in that location about 10 years ago.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on Apr 27, 09 6:25 PM
This is such a tragedy. Why would the other car stop in the middle of the road!? The car should have pulled over to his shoulder or waited until he was on the other side of the highway to ask if the disabled car needed help.
By MartyMcDougal (24), Providence on Apr 28, 09 12:36 PM
We who live in the area know Rt24 is a nightmare!! This happened in an area where theres no bend in the road. But, the other commenter is right, ALL the curves in the road have taken lives, Oh, dont forget those deers, especially at nighttime. Their the biggest road hazard we have on Flanders Road, so play it safe, slow it down at night.
By nazz (22), Flanders on Apr 28, 09 5:01 PM
A moron parks in the middle of the highway ! I don't care what his reason was - it was a stupid thing to do and it cost a man his life. Can you be put in jail for stupidity?
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Apr 29, 09 8:03 AM
On Law and Order you can!
By squeaky (288), hampton bays on Apr 29, 09 10:12 AM
Very sad....Hugo or "Gus" as he was known to his co-workers was as nice of a person as you would want to come across......he will be missed by all of us.....
By elidrummer (1), Hampton Bays on Apr 29, 09 2:23 PM
This is not a surprise...

2 or 3 people lose their lives on this particular 1/2mi stretch of road every year. What will be done about it? Absolutely nothing! Take a step back and think where all the money goes from the gas tax, that is, to half as-ed designed roads like Rt24 & County Rd 39.

It took how many yrs for 24 to be paved?

By politcal pawn (113), Flanders on Apr 29, 09 4:19 PM
Commute over this road on a daily basis -- biggest problem is driver's not using their heads!

I'm sorry for the family and friends of Mr. Lopez-Abbac, but with the sight-lines on that stretch of highway at that time of day, either he was going at an excessive rate of speed or not paying proper attention. "A driver must have control of his vehicle at all times."

Political Pawn may be right about County Road 39, but there's not much else to be done there. Route 24 has recently been ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1775), Northampton on Apr 30, 09 11:58 AM
I JUST WANTED TO CLEAR THINGS UP. I WAS THERE THAT DAY, IT WAS THE SCARIEST THING I WENT THROUGH. I HAD TO SLAM IN MY BRAKES, BUT I DID NOT SEE A CAR PARKED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. WHEN I CAME TO A STOP I SAW THREE HISPANIC MEXICANS GET OUT OF THERE CAR AND START WALKING DOWN THE STREET. THAT GOT ME VERY ANGRY AS I ALMOST WAS IN THE CRASH WITH THEM. I AM SORRY BUT THERE WAS NO PARKED CAR. THEY HAVE THAT WRONG......
By WILKINS (3), FLANDERS on May 1, 09 11:14 AM
YES I FEEL SO BAD FOR THAT FAMILY, I REALLY DO. BUT I FEEL THAT THEY HAVE THE STORY WRONG. THANK GOD I WAS NOT HIT AND I AM OK. IT LOOKED LIKE THE CAR THAT WAS COMING FORM HAMPTON BAYS HIT THE OTHER CAR WHEN HE WENT TO GO IN THE LEFT LANE WHERE IT MERGES TOGETHER. AT THAT MOMENT I HAD TO DO A QUICK THINKING AND SLAM ON MY BRAKES.
By WILKINS (3), FLANDERS on May 1, 09 11:16 AM
AND I FEEL THAT HE WAS NOT GOING FAST AT ALL BECAUSE I WAS ONLY GOING 55 AND I STILL SAW HIM IN FRONT OF ME.
By WILKINS (3), FLANDERS on May 1, 09 11:18 AM
WILKINS, I KNOW THE MAN WHO STOPED IN THE MIDLE OF THE ROAD, HE IS MY NEIGHBOUR, HE TOLD ME THE WHOLE STORY ON THAT MONDAY, HE DID STOP IN THE MIDLE OF THE ROAD TO HELP THE CAR STOPED ON THE OTHER LANE, AND HE SAID THAT THE DRIVER DIED, SOMEONE ELSE FLEW OUT OF THE CAR AND THE THIRD PASSANGER WAS STILL IN THE CAR HURT. THEY WALKED OUT OF THE CAR??? I DONT THINK MY NEIGHBOUR WAS LYING THE MAN WAS CRYING NON STOP!!! HOW DO YOU KNOW THAT THE THREE HISPANICS WERE MEXICANS??? DID YOU ASK THEM OR YOU ...more
By Southampton (15), southampton on May 5, 09 12:37 PM
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