Another fatal motorcycle accident on the Cross Island Parkway section known as Deadman’s Curve has led state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) to ask the state to redesign the area to prevent further tragedies.
David Wilson, 27, of South Richmond Hill, was killed when he lost control while operating a Suzuki motorcycle early Sunday morning and struck a barrier. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred near the Whitestone Expressway.
Wilson’s passenger was taken to Queens Hospital Center and is in stable condition. No other vehicle was involved.
The area dips down quickly around a bend, and at night foliage hides an upcoming barrier created by the nearby overpass. During the day, motorcyclists have no trouble making the curve on the parkway, but problems arise at night.
According to records kept by the Queens Chronicle, Sunday’s motorcycle fatality was the fourth there since 2004. The deaths have occurred on both sides of the curving road.
The first victim was Michael Moore, 49, from Springfield Gardens, who was missing for 40 days after leaving a party in the Bronx. A search party discovered his body 10 feet from the side of the parkway in tall weeds.
Since then, a flashing warning sign has been installed before the curve becomes visible on that side of the road.
In 2006, Eric Arsenault, 24, crashed into a guardrail and was killed. That’s when Avella, then a city councilman, got involved. Following the accident, the Department of Transportation added yellow 25 mph curve warning signs ahead of the bend, installed more reflective arrow signs and increased the grass cutting.
But in 2010, the added safety measures did not prevent off-duty Police Officer Philip Clemens, 27, on his way to a biker party in Astoria, from losing control of his motorcycle and fatally crashing into the same guardrail that took Arsenault’s life.
Avella announced last year that the Federal Highway Administration indicated it was studying possible changes to the design of roadway guardrails. The study was supposed to be completed at the end of 2012, but the senator has just learned that the completion has been extended to the end of this year.
The federal agency is studying fatal motorcycle crashes involving traffic barriers and will use the results to improve the design of “roadside safety hardware” and offer guidance on making the changes.
Avella, however, is tired of waiting. He told the Chronicle on Tuesday that he will ask the state DOT to redesign the location. “It’s something that has to be done,” he said. “Sunday’s death is one more unfortunate incident and it shows the need to make changes,” adding that the barriers “are deadly to motorcyclists.”