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Aug 1, 2012 10:28 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Cops: Driver Involved In Crash That Caused Giant Traffic Jam Still In Intensive Care

Aug 1, 2012 11:35 AM

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley said some doctors and nurses at the hospital, which is in the village, had difficulty getting to work. Others couldn’t leave.

“For those seven hours, anyone from Hampton Bays who wanted to go to Southampton Hospital was screwed,” said Southampton Village Trustee Bill Hattrick. “I frankly think there was a screw-up in an artery that simply can’t tolerate screw-ups,” he said, noting that there have been several other serious crashes—some fatal—in the same area over the past several years.

“This snafu, seven hours of tying the East End in a sheepshank—I’m going to pursue it,” Mr. Hattrick said, questioning why the accident reconstruction and cleanup process took so long, and adding that he planned to take up the issue before the Southampton Town Board. He also questioned how many gallons of gasoline were wasted by the idling vehicles.

Southampton Village Police Chief Thomas Cummings called it a “problem of overwhelming volume,” saying that his department was extremely busy with calls during the time the Town Police had the road closed and that village officers directed traffic at Windmill Lane and Hill Street, as well as at North Sea Road and Bowden Square, when not responding to calls. “The officers couldn’t do much to help other than to prevent some gridlock,” the chief wrote in an email while on vacation this week.

Mr. Epley said that there was also a lot more foot traffic in the village business district than usual, as stuck motorists got out and dined at restaurants they might not have otherwise, but acknowledged the frustration.

“I’ve never seen it that bad heading back west,” said Paul Denis, 44, an Eastport resident who was returning home after doing work in Sag Harbor for a distributor service that afternoon. “I was in traffic for almost three hours. I was losing my patience, to be quite honest. I could tell tempers were going up, people were rolling down windows. People were cutting in front of other people. Horns were beeping.”

David Orlowski, an electrician who clocked out of a job at The Press’s office in Southampton Village at 3 p.m. to head to his Holtsville office, said he got into many conversations with fellow motorists while stuck on Montauk Highway near the Shinnecock Indian Reservation, although “the lady behind me hit the back of my trailer twice.”

Another driver, he said, was driving a 1960s model Lincoln that was so old it couldn’t idle in traffic long, so he had to pull it over and let it cool several times.

Plenty of bicyclists whizzed past the gridlocked cars, he observed.

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Thanks for the update. Surprising that SH Town had not previously joined the County's CodeRED alert system?

Perhaps one benefit of this situation, is that the East End will accelerate the implementation of the Peconic Bay Regional Transportation Authority (exact name TBD), and get shuttle trains running ASAP from at least Speonk to East Hampton and back, with increased North/South interconnected bus feeder lines. Better yet, Babylon to Montauk?

Our over-dependence on highways and ...more
By PBR (4956), Southampton on Aug 1, 12 11:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
PBR is absolutely correct regarding dependence on cars. The Napeague stretch was closed for two or three hours a few years ago for an accident involving multiple fatalities.
By Rich Morey (378), Brooklyn on Aug 1, 12 2:21 PM
1 member liked this comment
The problem is a dependence on a confined space.

I don't know how to put it any plainer than that...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Aug 1, 12 10:36 PM
the problem is everybody has an agenda. everyone dances noboby hears the band.
By patrickstar (67), hampton bays on Aug 3, 12 4:11 PM
I went to Hampton Bays around 6:30 pm from North Sea....I didn't see 1 policemen....I thought it was odd ...such a big mess and not policemen :(
By Bel (86), southampton on Aug 3, 12 8:39 PM
drinking, drugs, cell phones and text-ing are all recipes for disaster on the roads these days. It's frightening. We must stop.
By dawn22 (6), Southampton on Aug 5, 12 5:53 PM