Deadly crash puts spotlight on intersection

November 17, 2009 3:14:33 PM PST
A family on Long Island is leading a crusade to to fix a deadly intersection. The family hopes to improve safety and prevent more accidents on the street where one of their loved ones died. The deadly crash was just one of several incidents in the past few months at Montauk Highway and Washington Avenue in Sayville.

Perry McKinney spent most of his 72 years in West Sayville, married to the love of his life. But after a half century of marriage, he was snatched away in a violent wreck less than a mile from home.

"Me being in the EMS field, I see a lot of that on a regular basis," grandson Colin Martin said. "But it's different when it's your own family."

Martin volunteers on an ambulance and sees his share of tragedy. His grandfather died in September, as he tried to turn onto Montauk Highway from Washington Avenue.

It is a notorious blind corner, thanks to a curving road and a stone wall. And neighbors say it isn't an isolated incident on the two-lane stretch of Montauk Highway.

"One traffic light may cost a $100,000," resident Rose Van Guilder said. "How much is the value of one life?"

Van Guilder says she's fed up with speeding cars. She's gathered dozens of names for a petition, demanding Suffolk County make changes to the busy road.

A month before McKinney died, she snapped photos after an out-of-control truck slammed into a power pole.

Residents say they risk their lives any time they pull onto the highway.

"If you measure the distance and the visibility, it's a split-second decision," resident Beth Laundrie said. "And because people are speeding, there's no way to get into the intersection safely."

Now, McKinney's widow is trying to cope with life without him. Colin has moved in to keep her company.

"She's strong, but on the inside I'm sure she's crushed," he said.