HOLTSVILLE, N.Y. -- A wrong-way collision on the Long Island Expressway killed two people early Thursday morning, and there are many questions as to how it happened.
The LIE has since reopened, but all westbound lanes and the eastbound HOV lane between exits 63 and 62 were closed for hours following the crash just before 1 a.m.
The crash claimed two lives. Police said the innocent driver of an Acura, 32-year-old Jose Ferreira of West Babylon, was traveling westbound when he was struck head-on in the middle lane at the Holtsville-Farmingville border by a Chevrolet Silverado. Thomas Raimondo of Holbrook, the 61-year-old driver of that pickup truck, was the wrong-way driver, police said.
"It's very early on in the investigation. We are thinking he got on at Exit 59 of the Long Island Expressway going westbound in the eastbound lanes," Suffolk County Police Lt. Dylan Friedlander said.
No one at Raimondo's home wanted to speak, but Travis Lawrence, who lives on Chestnut Avenue and the service road in Ronkonkoma, where Raimondo apparently entered illegally, said at night people speed through looking for short cuts.
"Yeah, I've been here 10 years. It's a regular thing, honestly. Now recently within past year about seven different crashes right here," Lawrence said.
Michael and Una Denihan, who regularly drive on the LIE, said they worry about clearly marked exit and entrance ramps and driver impairment.
"That is insane. He must be intoxicated, right?" Una Denihan said.
"Going the opposite way, jeopardizing all these lives, so I think it's really bad," Michael Denihan added.
"We want to know why this collision happened. Are there factors to help prevent it from happening in the future?" Friedlander said.
There are federal studies currently underway to reduce wrong-way crashes. They involve use of pavement markers, rumble strips, portable tire deflators, and even spikes on at-risk entrance and exits.
Despite new signage and flashing lights, police say there are still multiple wrong-way crashes, more than 500 nationwide per year.
There was one just Wednesday in Roslyn on the Northern State Parkway. Fortunately, no one died.
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