Written by Cynthia Paulis Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00
Neighbors report that the stretch of Conklin Street where a crash early Saturday morning killed five Farmingdale teenagers is a well-known trouble spot.
“I have been pushing for a red light on one of these two corners,” said Anthony Vitale, who lives near the scene and is a former member of the Farmingdale Board of Education. “You cannot make a turn here, either on Staples Street or Oakview Avenue because you can’t see anything coming from that side. We need a traffic light...usually when there is a light, cars tend to slow down.”
Daniel Romano, manager of Frankee’s East Side Gourmet Restaurant, joined many others in Farmingdale calling for changes in the area.
“There should be speed bumps on that street,” Romano said. “It is unfortunate that we have to learn after an incident like this. It should have been prevented years ago.”
Conklin Street is the local name for State Route 24, which is also known as Fulton Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike in other parts of Nassau County. Over the past decade, an average of three pedestrians have died each year on this roadway, making it one of the most treacherous in the state. Statistics on vehicular accidents preceding Saturday morning’s crash were not immediately available.
According to police, the 2001 Nissan was westbound on Conklin Street when it crossed into the eastbound lanes and collided with a GMC Suburban driven by a Maryland resident, who police identified only as a 53-year-old man. His passenger was identified only as a woman.
One teenager was pronounced dead at the scene, and two more died upon impact, said police. Another was pronounced dead at the hospital. Cody Talanian, 17, was taken to the hospital in serious condition and died Sunday evening. The occupants of the Suburban were hospitalized in serious condition, said authorities.
Restaurant manager Romano remembered the students.
“They were just here four days ago,” he said. “These were not kids who got in trouble. These were ‘golden’ kids. They were never negative, always smiling, always happy.”
Romano said that the restaurant will hold a fundraiser to help the victims’ families.
Local officials are determined to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.
“What the mayor and deputy mayor and this board will do in the next week or so is write a letter to the traffic safety [division of the] DOT of New York State and ask them to please review the traffic patterns on Rt. 24, and especially on Rt. 109 where there have been more fatalities, and come up with some measures that can help abate traffic safety,” said Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.