Six people have died following a crash on the Long Island Expressway in Manorville, where a speeding SUV swerved off the road in order to avoid colliding with slowed traffic in a work zone. In addition to the six fatalities, the most recent of which was a 71-year-old retired dental hygienist from Westhampton, the crash left five people injured.
According to Suffolk police Chief of Detectives Gerard Gigante, several witnesses reported that an eastbound Subaru Outback was speeding before it hurdled across the grassy median. The vehicle became airborne and collided with two westbound cars, a BMW and a Honda. The 26-year-old driver of the Subaru, along with his sister, 27, and 10-year-old son all died as a result of the crash.
The other victims were a couple, ages 81 and 71, who were on their way to a wedding in New Jersey. A 29-year-old 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.
Authorities say the Subaru driver was speeding and lost control when he came up on traffic. “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.”
There was no construction happening when the crash occurred on Sunday. The stretch of road 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 police are investigating whether road conditions factored into the crash, a normal probe in these types of situations. The State Department of Transportation is cooperating.
According to DOT records, 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. Construction was supposed to be completed by July 20, but it got pushed back to Dec. 31.