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Aug 18, 2008 9:45 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Child playing with wagon struck and killed

Aug 18, 2008 9:45 AM

A five-year-old girl died Sunday after the Radio Flyer red wagon in which she was playing in her driveway rolled downhill into traffic on Montauk Highway near Surf Drive in the Beach Hampton area of Amagansett and was struck by a car.

Police identified the victim as Margaret Sheerin of North Salem, New York.

The child was playing at the top of a steeply pitched driveway at 731 Montauk Highway off the north side of the road, when the wagon rolled downhill and into the roadway, according to a police account of the accident.

The victim’s father, Christopher Sheerin, 40, was preparing to bring his two young children to the beach nearby and had gone into the house for a moment when the wagon rolled down the hill. Police did not give the mother’s name but said she was upstate at the time of the accident.

An Amagansett Fire Department ambulance took the child to Southampton Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The little girl’s wagon crossed the westbound lane of traffic and was struck by a car headed east, just before 3 p.m., police said. No charges are expected to be filed against the driver, Erika Halweil, 31, of Sag Harbor, according to police.

“There was nothing she could have done,” East Hampton Police Chief Todd Sarris said on Monday. “She wasn’t speeding, she wasn’t drinking, she tried to avoid her ... but the wagon was just going too fast to react in time. There’s not really anything you can do in that situation. That’s part of what makes it so painful.”

Ms. Halweil apparently slammed on her brakes and swerved to avoid the little girl, crashing into a guardrail. Her car was later towed to the Town Police garage behind Town Hall on Monday morning. Chief Sarris said the impact with the guardrail set off the car’s airbag and badly damaged the vehicle, and the rubber on the car’s front tires was worn smooth from skidding on the pavement.

Another driver who witnessed to the accident was sitting in her car at a road end nearby, waiting to turn onto the highway, when she saw the wagon come out of the driveway going very fast, the chief said.

Ms. Halweil was also taken to Southampton Hospital and treated for minor injuries, which she suffered when her car struck the guard rail. She was later released.

East Hampton Town Police are asking anyone who might have witnessed the accident to call the department at 631-537-7575.

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I do not think the press should be in the business of censoring information. I would hope the family did not need to read the article in the paper regarding the tradgedy. Perhaps the photos send a stronger message to other parents?
By TheGoodLife (43), Westhampton Beach on Sep 1, 08 1:47 PM