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Thursday, August 25, 2022

GLOW Region News — A Call For Change:
Petition urges safety improvements at East Avon intersection after latest crash

Injuries were reported to five people following this August 14th accident at Lakeville (Route 15) and Sutton Roads in East Avon. A petition is calling for safety improvements to be made at the intersection.
--East Avon Fire Dept. Photograph

Greg Norry has had enough. The Sutton Road resident has started an online petition at change.org calling for safety improvements at the Lakeville (Route 15) and Sutton and Lake roads intersection.

Norry, who lives on Sutton Road three homes away from the intersection, took action after a two-vehicle crash on Aug. 14 sent five people, including two young children, to Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. One young woman suffered significant injuries and was flown to the hospital by Mercy Flight Central.

Norry was among several neighbors who joined first responders in helping at the scene after the crash.

“I held a 4-year-old in my arm. I had her blood down my arm, on my shirt and my pants as I tried to console her,” Norry told The Livingston County News on Monday. “I knew she wasn’t hurt bad, but then I saw her sister being carried and she was like a limp rag.”

Norry, in his petition, is asking for consideration of either a four-way stop sign, a full traffic light or lowering the speed limit along Route 15.

Others have joined in his call for changes. More than 700 people had signed the petition as of Aug. 24.

About 40 people have also left comments, with many saying they were adding their name in hopes that the petition could help save a life. Those commenting recalled seeing accidents, having close calls of their own at the intersection, and generally feeling nervous when approaching the intersection.

“I hold my breath every time I have to pull onto Route 15,” wrote Marsha Fitzgerald, who said she travels the road daily.

Several writers noted a hill crest and dip in the road that can limit visibility, factors that Norry also noted in his petition.

“If you live in this area you just know how dangerous this intersection (is). I never approach it without a measure of anxiety and trepidation,” wrote Lynne Mignemi, who was among the first to comment. “I agree with other comments that at minimum there should be a traffic study.”

Mignemi said in a telephone interview that she often travels around Livingston County for work and “I feel sick every time I approach this intersection.”

While Mignemi said she didn’t know what the best solution was for the Route 15 intersection, she was hopeful that one was possible. She cited changes at the Route 63 and Court Street intersection in Geneseo where a roundabout opened in 2020. She said she has seen a difference and an improvement at the intersection and no longer feels nervous driving through there.

“I have seen the improvements at that one intersection, so I know that something can be done. I think that is at the heart of the matter why I decided to speak up” with the petition, Mignemi said.

“I think there can be a solution that will see a reduction in the number of accidents and fatalities (on Route 15) and that would be good for everyone,” she said.

The state Department of Transportation told The Livingston County News (LCN) on Monday that “upon formal submission of a letter of concern or submission of the petition” it would begin a review of State Route 15 and Lake/Sutton Road.

“Once received, NYSDOT will study crash history and the physical characteristics/roadway design at this intersection. NYSDOT will provide a response with the review’s findings upon completion,” the statement said.

A petition on its own would not trigger a NYSDOT review, but a formal letter sent to the regional office would be flagged by regional staff and begin a formal review process.

“We don’t have a lot of accidents, but when they happen, they’re bad,” said Norry, who has lived on Sutton Road the past 21 years.

“I’m not talking fender benders. I’m talking about high speed T-Bone accidents,” he wrote in the petition.

The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office, which continues to investigate the crash, said the intersection has had eight motor vehicle crashes since Jan. 1, 2018.

The most recent crash came the evening of Aug. 14 and sent multiple people to the hospital, including one with serious injuries who was flown to Strong.

Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty said a preliminary investigation into the crash reveals that the driver of one vehicle – with four occupants – was traveling westbound on Sutton Road and failed to stop for a stop sign at Route 15. The vehicle failed to yield right of way to a second vehicle that was traveling southbound on Route 15, he said.

Both vehicles came to a rest off of Lakeville Road on the Lake Road side near the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Dougherty said Vehicle and Traffic Law charges are pending.

Firefighters from East Avon and Lima Fire departments responded. When they arrived, one person was unconscious and trapped in a vehicle that was on its side, according to a Facebook post by the East Avon Fire Department.

East Avon firefighters stabilized the vehicle using rescue struts and the winch on East Avon’s Engine 274. They then began performing a roof roll, which allowed the patient to be removed quickly to waiting emergency medical services crews, the fire department said.

A total of five people were injured. Four in one vehicle included a male, female and two children. A single male in the second vehicle was also injured, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

A 19-year-old female suffered significant injuries and was flown from the scene to Strong. The woman has since been discharged from the hospital, Dougherty said.

The others, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, include two 29-year-old males, a 3-year-old female and a 5-year-old female

Norry, in his petition, provided a chilling narrative as he detailed helping getting two little girls out through a smashed windshield. One of the girls “was not responsive or breathing until the EMTs got there.”

Norry said he remembered seeing the westbound vehicle’s brake lights activate as it approached the intersection. He had watched the vehicle as it drove past his home, exchanging a wave with the occupants. He said he didn’t see the crash happen, but heard it and when he looked up “saw both cars spinning down into the yard” of the Jehovah’s Witness property.

Norry said something needs to be done to make the intersection safer. His petition suggests three things be considered for the intersection: make it a four-way stop, give it a full traffic light, or lower the speed limit.

A flashing light, Norry wrote, “will do NO good because you still can’t see oncoming traffic.”

He suggested conditions near the intersection such as the crest of a hill, a dip in the road, and shadows can hamper visibility of oncoming traffic. He said the day after the accident he measured distances at the intersection using a range finder used for hunting and found:

n From Sutton Road looking north, it’s 75 yards to where you can first see a car crest the hill on Route 15, where the speed limit is 55 mph. “That comes out to 4 seconds of time before impact,” he wrote in his petition.

In the interview with the LCN, Norry said he determined the time based on a car traveling at 55 mph covering 80 feet per second.

n Looking to the south, “there is a dip in the road that is 90 yards away and with shadows from trees, cars can disappear,” he wrote, estimating there is about 5 seconds before a potential impact.

Norry suggested that lowering the speed limit to 40 mph from Routes 5&20 to the town of Lakeville – a total distance of about 6 miles – where the speed limit decreases to 30 would benefit “multiple bad intersections south of Sutton Road.” Those intersections include a Route 390 ramp, Triphammer Road, Quicklee’s gas station and Route 256.

Norry said he planned to reach out to NYSDOT when the petition was closer to its goal of 1,000 signatures – it had 716 as of noon Wednesday – and had already been in contact with state police and the traffic safety coordinator for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Livingston County in hopes of finding a solution.

Norry acknowledged that a four-way stop or a light are probably the least likely to happen. And, he said, while reducing the speed limit may not solve the problem “if it makes people go a little slower, then maybe there will be a little more time to get through the intersection and it can still save lives.”


Find Greg Norry’s petition online at https://tinyurl.com/yckps689.

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