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Another Tragic Wrong Way Accident On Hudson Valley Highways

On February 27, 2015, 46 year old Paul Duncan, a seventeen year veteran of the NYPD and married father of a teenage daughter, was killed in a wrong way crash on the Sprain Brook Parkway, just south of Route 100B in Greenburgh.  Duncan was traveling southbound in a 2011 Honda Pilot shortly before 4:00 AM when his vehicle was struck by a 2013 Honda Civic traveling the wrong way, operated by 20 year old Efren Moreano, a Yonkers resident.  Moreano has been in a medically induced coma since the accident.

The tragic accident last week is at least the third on the Sprain and Taconic Parkways in the last five and a half years, resulting in nine deaths, and one of seven fatal accidents on highways in the region, including the New York State Thruway and I-95.  The crashes on the Taconic include the horrific July 2009 accident in which Diane Shuler, who had a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.18% (more than double the legal limit of 0.08%), drove southbound in the northbound lanes for several miles with her infant daughter, five year old son, and three nieces aged 10 and under in the car.  Shuler struck a northbound vehicle occupied by three men.  The only survivor of this tragedy was Shuler’s five year old son.

Improper and misleading signage has been blamed for some of the accidents, although in several, as in the Shuler crash, alcohol was a significant factor.  For example, in August of last year, off duty NYPD officer Richard Christopher was inebriated when he drove his pickup truck the wrong way on the New York State Thruway in Rockland County and struck a Honda CRV operated by an Airmont resident.  Both men were killed in the crash. In March of 2012, Reginald Velez, an off duty Mount Vernon police officer, was killed when he drove in the wrong direction on I-95 in the Bronx (after drinking heavily earlier that evening) and struck a tractor-trailer head on.

Based upon the total destruction of the Duncan and Moreano vehicles in the February 27, 2015 fatal accident, some mathematical equations can assist in explaining the accident.  If we assume that both Mr. Duncan and Moreano were each traveling at the speed limit of 55 m.p.h., then each vehicle was moving at 81 feet per second toward each other.  Thus, the two cars were approaching each other, in the dark, at approximately 162 feet per second, or eleven car lengths a second.  Mr. Duncan obviously had no reason to anticipate that a vehicle would be approaching him in the wrong direction.  At approximately 55 miles per hour, his brakes required approximately 270 feet to stop the vehicle, based upon data from the National Safety Council and the U.S. Department of Commerce, assuming he had the opportunity to apply his brakes, which may not have been possible for Mr. Duncan.

It has been reported that a few minutes prior to the fatal crash, the Hudson Valley Transportation Management Center was notified of the wrong way driver, and troopers were apparently dispatched to attempt to stop the Moreano vehicle, to no avail.

If you or a family member have suffered serious injuries in a car accident, trip and fall accident, or in a bus, truck or motorcycle crash, contact the experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Mark A. Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation to discuss your case in detail.