A deadly crash over the weekend leaves six people dead and another five injured on Long Island. Authorities say a speeding SUV caused the crash when it came up fast on a work zone on the Long Island Expressway. The driver of the vehicle, a Subaru Outback, reportedly swerved to avoid the slowed traffic and collided with cars on the opposite side.
Several witnesses say the Subaru was speeding before it swerved and hurdled across the grassy median, according to Suffolk police Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante. The car became airborne and slammed into two cars, a BMW and a Honda, heading west. The crash killed the 26-year-old driver of the Subaru, along with his 27-year-old sister and 10-year-old son.
The victims in the other vehicles included a couple, ages 81 and 71, who were headed to a wedding in New Jersey. A 29-year-old man who worked as the communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and was previously a staffer for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was also killed.
Officials say the Subaru seemed to be going above the speed limit and lost control once it hit the work zone, where traffic had slowed. “It looks like traffic may have slowed…It appears he came up fast on a vehicle in the left lane and he moved to the left in an effort to avoid that vehicle, and when he did that, he ran up on the shoulder and continued going across the grassy median and lost control of the car,” Gigante said, according to Newsday. “All indications are that he was going above the speed limit; he was speeding.”
At the time the crash happened, no work was being done. Construction is taking place on a section of road that passes over a Long Island Rail Road track on an incline between Exits 68 and 69.
Gigante notes that the work zone area is “pretty well marked” with signs and cones. “There are two strips of that road that have been torn up and replaced in the section with metal plates, and bound up on the edges with blacktop,” he said, according to Newsday. “There’s a slight rise in the road, over the bridge, to smooth out the plate. If you’re going on it at a high rate of speed, it could be a contributing factor.”
The State Department of Transportation is cooperating with a police investigation to determine if road conditions were a factor. These probes are standard following car accidents on the highway. DOT says it is cooperating.
DOT records show that the roadwork is being done as part of a $10.9 million multistep project to repair the expressway’s bridge over tracks for the Long Island Rail Road that passes over the Carmans River by Exit 67. The work is also being done at the highway intersection with Wading River Road by Exit 69. The work was supposed to be done by July 20, but has been delayed to Dec. 31.