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Street Lighting in Amagansett Called into Question in Wake of Fatal Accident

Some government officials, business owners have concerns Main Street isn't lit up enough — even though the cause of Tuesday's crash remains a mystery.

While police continue the search for the driver who fled after their car struck and killed a man crossing Main Street in Amagansett on Tuesday night, the community is left to wonder what caused the crash in the first place.

Some area business owners and government officials have raised lighting along that stretch of Route 27 as a concern.

Tony and Allison Lupo, friends of John Judge, the 61-year-old accident victim, said they have long believed the street needs to be better lit at night. Judge just left their restaurant, Astro Pizza, for his apartment on the south side of the street when he was struck.

The Lupos, who have owned the pizzeria for 42 years, said they often see cars whizzing by their storefront — despite a 30 mph speed limit and the nearby 20 mph speed limit in front of the Amagansett School. They said, it's difficult for drivers to see pedestrians in the cross walk, no matter what the speed.

Detective Lt. Chris Anderson, the lead investigator on the hit-and-run case, said he doesn't have any specific concerns about the lighting in the area. However, "That is a factor that we look into in any automobile accident," he said.

Without any eye witness who have come forward yet, police are still piecing together how the accident occurred, including the direction the vehicle was headed. Anderson said that Judge appears to have been struck in the eastbound portion of the road.

East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione, who happened to be the one to discover Judge's body near a parked truck, said he fears the lighting is inadequate. An Amagansett resident, he said it appears to be "an obvious safety hazard that needs to be addressed" during on going Dark Skies legislation discussions. "We've got to make safety apart of the conversation."

Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson said, "We owe it to everybody to review it again just to make sure it is the best it should be," he said, adding that he plans on meeting with Town Police Chief Ed Ecker and Town Engineer Tom Talmage to determine if there's a need for more lighting. He also put in a call to the State Department of Transportation since Main Street is apart of the state highway.

Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, an Amagansett resident and the liasion to the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee, agreed. "Everything needs to be explored when something this horrific happens," she said, mentioning any possibly contributing factors such as lighting — including any glare off the wet pavement, as it was beginning to rain — and speed.

"Crosswalks may need a little more light, but I know this didn't involve the crosswalk," she said.

 

"We have to address the fact that it’s a whole different situation when there’s foliage. Is there a need for greater tree trimming to ensure we get light to the appropriate areas? I think it’s just a wise thing to look at, regardless, because of the time of night that the accident occurred and because it was a fatality," Wilkinson said.

Tom Field, who lives off Main Street, was one of the first people to respond; he is an advanced emergency medical technician, who along with A-EMT Randy Hoffmann administered cardio pulmonary resuscitation to Judge while an Amagansett Fire Department ambulance transported him to Southampton Hospital.

While Field, a member of the Amagansett CAC, said he doesn't have concerns with the current lighting. He said he has had concerns about lower-hanging lighting that has been installed in other hamlets, which he finds can be blinding to drivers.

Elaine Monroe, whose store Decorum is on the south side of the street, near where Judge was found, said the street is somewhat dark at night and the crosswalks aren't lit up enough. She said while Amagansett is small, there are four restaurants in the area and many people are crossing the street at night.

"I'm surprised more hasn't happened," Monroe said, adding that other business owners share her concern. "People drive right through them at night all the time," she said.

Judge lived in her house, behind the store, and did odd jobs for her since Decorum opened 13 years ago. "He must have crossed that street a million times a month," she said. "He was the town character," frequently seen walking around Amagansett and a fixture at Astro Pizza.

"I don't know what I'm going to do without him," she said. "He will be sorely missed."

Tell us: What do you think of the lighting on Main Street in Amagansett? In other areas of the Town of East Hampton? Post your comment below.

Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) October 25, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Via Patch on Facebook, Amy Greene Dunn said, "Street lights aren't going to help speeding cars. You have to figure there are cars parked alongside the road, someone steps out to cross people need time to slow down or stop, a speeding car isn't going to have that time no matter how well it is lit up. Slow down people, it's not worth a persons life."
esy October 25, 2012 at 07:39 PM
It's unfortunate that these concerns only come to question after a tragedy occurs.
Jimmy Incognito October 25, 2012 at 07:44 PM
One possible problem (obviously not sure if it contributed to this event in particular) is with cars parked too close to crosswalks. Many countries have laws prohibiting parking within a certain distance from a crosswalk, but here in Amagansett I've even seen police cars parked right before one. This makes it impossible to see someone crossing the road until they've already stepped out into the street.
Jan Lehre October 25, 2012 at 08:24 PM
The highway style lighting in our quaint villages is not only an eye soar, but more importantly, it is the wrong kind of light. There should be more lights at shorter heights...providing more light on actual pedestrians...rather than just throwing light on large expanses of road. 10 - 12 feet high. In high pedestrian areas, the street crossings should be "elevated" a few inches...as in a speed bump.
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) October 25, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Other comments on East Hampton Patch's Facebook: Dominick M. Koscielniak said, "Max limit on speed would do better - it's HAMPTONS not NASCAR." Catherine Debackere said, "There should be a traffic lite on Rte 27 at the turn/crosswalk by the Amagasett Library. Way to dark and dangerous to cross Mtk Highway at night. A traffic light would help slow down traffic - seems to work for downtown E Hampton."
Walter Noller October 25, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Unfortunately, this is just another obnoxious business district everyone has to go through when traveling on 27. It's also the last one people need to put up with before they get past Napeague. Hard as this sounds, there's not a person who wouldn't wish for a by-pass around the towns like you find in so many other places. The arguement has always been it would have a negative effect on commerce, but I believe it would improve it because going to the stores, restaurants, etc. would be the only reason for being on Main St. Too many times, trying to park only aggrevates the car behind who passes where there's a double line. Too many things in life cause people to want instant gratification and waiting or slowing down or worse, dealing with a red light only makes for more aggressive drivers. Add to that the street lighting is poor in many spots and that is amplified by the lights from the stores that causes night vision issues. Bad lighting conditions, harried drivers, too many distractions both in and out of the auto and the possible assumption made by a pedestrian about a driver actually seeing you all makes for one deadly cocktail.. case in point.
local Business owner October 25, 2012 at 11:20 PM
No more traffic lights. It makes traffic to slow you nut!
Penny October 26, 2012 at 01:48 AM
hey T...need to correct John's name above ^
Taylor K. Vecsey (Editor) October 26, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Done. Thanks, Penny!
Lin B October 26, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Nobody seems to pay any attention to the crosswalks in EH, Amagansett, Bridgehampton, etc. They seem to like coming out between parked cars, crossing in the middle of the street nowhere near the crosswalks, walking diagonally across the street, etc. The lighted crosswalk doesn't seem to draw pedestrians like moths to a flame either. Amagansett Main Street is a scary place to drive at night. Given all the reasons above plus the fact that the lighting makes it seem as if it was lit by candles. Your head has to be on a swivel. And taking the back roads to avoid Main Street is even worse. Driving with high beams is the only way I would go the back way---then it is pedestrians walking in the road and deer crossing. Never mind that the deer seem to cross the roads any time of day or night just like the rest of the pedestrians! And the humans seem to think because pedestrians have the right of way, drivers should be wearing night goggles to see them.
donna rubino October 26, 2012 at 03:41 PM
there needs to be better lighting in Montauk and the Hamptons, there are sooo many near misses, I know i live in the heart of montauk downtown and every nite we see people crossing streets and cars almost hitting them because they are hard to see - way too many animals being killed as well for the same reason - I understand the night sky people, the sky is beautiful at nite but we need to use some common sense, especially the town who could easily face a lawsuit for having a dangerous situation and doing nothing about it!!
Artie October 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I agree, the lighting in Amagansett, East Hampton and especially Montauk is horrible. Nothing will be done until someone famous or high ranking in the community is killed and unfortunately it will happen and that's when they will change things.
Lin B October 26, 2012 at 04:47 PM
I agree with Donna. However, I know when we were growing up--and there was hardly any traffic in Bonac, we were still told not to step out into traffic between parked cars. And making the speed limit lower will not have any impact. As it is, if you try to go the speed limit some idiot is riding your bumper. You could put a 10 MPH speed limit sign. Tell me if you think people would pay any attention to it.
susan crandall October 26, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Bob Reutershan was struck and killed at the same spot in the 1960's. This is not a new problem. It is a busy crossing at night, and should be better illuminated.
Dorine Drohan October 26, 2012 at 11:37 PM
The fact of the matter is that a pedistrian can see a car coming but the driver of a car can not see the pedestrian once the sun goes down. But most pedistrian "think" that they are being seen.Also there are many spot's in the town that the sun at certain times in the afternoon is blinding to the driver heading west. So blinding that you can not see anything at all.
life long resident for 56 years October 27, 2012 at 01:51 AM
We may have quaint villages but they are villages with a main highway going straight through them! The lighting is awful in all the villages! If I remember correctly.... the lights were dimmed in the villages because of complaints by the dark sky people. In fact didn't they make the village of East Hampton either replace or paint brand new light fixtures because they thought they were too bright!? The streets NEED BETTER LIGHTING!
jsb October 27, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Safety before dark skies.
Lin B October 27, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Hooray for "life long resident for 56 yrs" & "jsb". Also agree with the person who pointed out that drivers cannot see pedestrians coming into the streets (and some of them are wearing dark clothing too) even if the pedestrians DO think they are visible. The lighting is awful!
Laura Otto October 27, 2012 at 01:19 PM
If the villages truly have dimmed the lights on any of the main streets because of complaints from "the dark sky" group then I would hope they seriously reassess their decision making process. Not only will more people be killed but the town is open to serious litigation. The experiment in EH villiage with the blinking crosswalks is kind of cool and definitely helps me to see people better.
EH/AMAG October 28, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Agree, we need smarter lighting not just brighter lighting. No one knows how or why this very unfortunate accident occurred.
EH/AMAG October 28, 2012 at 11:19 PM
you could have both... when done correctly
Amagansett Mom November 04, 2012 at 07:46 PM
What about our children?? Too many times, too many near misses! It's unconscionable to think that those of us who live here whose kids go to school should have to fight anyone on issues concerning the safety of our children!! I personally along with another parent contacted town hall and police dept (LAST YEAR!!) to ask what "we" could do to help expedite safer crosswalks in amagansett...town hall told us to contact town police,town police told us to contact town hall! We teach our kids to cross safely in crosswalks and it is still not safe! Just ask our lovely crossing guard at Amagansett School, it's a job for a warrior even during school hours! This tragedy should never have happened...we have brought it to the attention of powers that be plenty!! Be proactive not reactive NOW!
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