Speed cited in North Branford crash

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
Feb. 15, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — Police said a 17-year-old driver is lucky to be alive after crashing his car into a tree on Sea Hill Road this week, a few houses away from where a woman died in a car accident last summer that also involved a teenage driver.

Neighbors in the area said Thursday they are worried about the speed of traffic on the road, which is the main outlet to Route 80.

The single-car accident occurred at about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

According to police, the driver was traveling “unreasonably fast” on the 25 mph road and lost control of his Mercury SUV, skidding from one side of the two-lane road to another.

After narrowly avoiding a head-on collision with an oncoming car, the SUV hit the left curb and became airborne before crashing into a tree in the front yard of a home near the intersection with Beech Street.

The impact pushed the passenger-side frame of the car 3 feet into the front seat, according to the police report, but the driver was not seriously injured.

“If there was a passenger there, he or she would have died,” Detective Sgt. Ken McNamara said. “What saved (the driver) was the seatbelt.”

Police are not releasing the name of the teenager, who lives on Sea Hill Road, because of his age.

They said he was transported to the Hospital of Saint Raphael and treated Wednesday night for minor cuts and bruises.

At the time of the accident, the road was wet from Wednesday’s downpours and it was lightly raining, according to the report. Police could not determine a definite speed for the SUV, but issued the driver a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving based on the physical evidence and statements from the drivers of two oncoming cars.

The teen’s car was traveling west on Sea Hill Road down a hill, in the same direction as the driver in the crash last summer. In that accident, Joyce Bumpus died after another 17-year-old driver, to whom police issued a speeding ticket, hit Bumpus’ car from behind while she was backing out of her driveway.

Police said another fatal accident occurred on the same stretch of Sea Hill Road in 2000, when a driver lost control of his car and hit a tree.

Local residents said they often see drivers traveling well over the speed limit in the area.

“I watch my grandson here and I don’t even want to bring him out front,” said Elaine Carpenter, who lives across the street from the site of Wednesday’s accident. “It’s a dangerous road, and I don’t know how many people are going to get hurt or killed out here before they do something about it.”

Carpenter said she thinks putting speed bumps on the hill would slow down the vehicles.

“You can drive the hill and even if you don’t have your foot on the gas, if you’re just coasting, you get going too fast,” she said.

Lindsay Kuzia, who lives on Beech Street around the corner from the accident site, said she thinks it is mainly younger drivers who speed in the area.

“I think that the kids just need to learn to slow down and just calm down,” said Kuzia, 23.

Deputy Police Chief Michael Doody said the department will increase patrols in the area. He added that, once the winter weather is over, he plans to put a speed display unit on Sea Hill Road to tell people how fast they are driving.

“We’re going to have to sort of supplement it to send officers there during off-peak hours to try to control some of the speed,” Doody said.

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