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.