UPDATE: Merrick Woman Killed While Crossing Sunrise Highway

A woman was struck while trying to cross near Hewlett Avenue.

A woman was killed Wednesday morning after attempting to cross Sunrise Highway near Hewlett Avenue in Merrick, police said.

According to detectives, the victim, Susan Reffke, 56, of Merrick, was crossing Sunrise Highway in the vicinity of Hewlett Avenue from south to north. The victim was then struck by a 2008 Toyota being operated westbound in the right lane by a 46-year-old female.

Reffke was brought to Nassau University Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased by hospital personnel at 8:51 a.m.

The vehicle was impounded for safety checks and according to police, no charges have been filed.

This is a breaking news story. Patch will have more updates as they become available.

Linda January 26, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Drivers need to slow down at intersections - always be looking in all directions - scanning 3 mirrors to see behind them as they are slowing, and to also scan the roadway before them looking for everything - especially pedestrians crossing over busy highways near train stations and busy towns. I encourage DMW to emphasis the seriousness of teaching & demonstrating to new drivers how they are supposed to approach and stop at stop signs and traffic lights. Today's drivers tend to "tap and go" right past stop signs, and speed up at yellow traffic lights that are ready to turn red. It is one of my biggest pet peeves when I am driving on a highway and see cars on side streets with stop signs approaching main thoroughfares at top speed - shooting past the white line before the stop sign, and screeching to a halt PAST the stop sign. It frightens drivers on the main road not knowing if the car is going to stop. Often, the drivers on main highways veer to the left or hit their brakes not knowing if the cars veering out beyond the stop signs are even going to stop. These drivers should be ticketed for not stopping BEHIND the stop signs. Accidents like this one where a woman is killed can be avoided. Slow down. Stopbefore stop signs. Don't try to jump yellow going into red traffic lights. It's not worth it if you are risking the life of another. How much time are you saving when you drive so recklessly? My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family. What a very sad tragedy.
Linda January 26, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I traveled Merrick Rd. road every day for years working for the school district. I'd turn down Hewlett to avoid the congestion on Merrick Ave. I always saw pedestrians crossing to get to the train station. Increasingly, over the years, I've witnessed how cars operate at these busy intersections - either speeding up to get through yellow lights, flying through red lights to make a right turn onto Hewlett going north, or stopping on the dime at fast speeds. Everyone is in a rush these days especially during rush hour trying to catch a train or get to work on time. Intersections are the site of 70% of all accidents. This story is very sad and heart-breaking.
paul January 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Very tragic story. Not only vehicles, pedestrians too cross aimlessly not watching where they are walking with total disregard for the lights as well as the vehicles.
Ellen Kehrli-Steinberg January 26, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Make that a Camera intersection. People will slow down. Install a large sign in the median that says SLOW or CAMERA. Over the Holidays my daughter and her friends were driving to catch a train when they saw TWO pedestrians get struck and heaved over the roof of the car. They were hurt but not killed. Many many accidents happen at that particular intersection.
Niko Diamond January 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Many many accidents happen at that particular intersection. Let's all not forget to remember Dustin Freida.
Frank Melaccio January 26, 2012 at 08:45 PM
I cross at Merrick Avenue and Sunrise Highway everyday and it seems just to get worse. Although there is a crossing guard there in the morning, cars still are aggressive. I am not sure what the solution is but something needs to be done. Too many residents and children cross there. I intend to write a letter to the Town and the County. I encourage others to do so as well. My condolences to the Reffke family.
Gail Hochberg January 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world so there will always be inconsiderate and careless drivers not just in Merrick but everywhere. But how many pedestrians will have to be killed in Merrick before someone in Nassau County decides to budget the expense for a couple of footbridges at the very busy Merrick and Hewlett Avenues like they have on Jericho Turnpike in Westbury?
Gail Hochberg January 27, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Dear Frank, check out my remedy in my comments following yours. I don't know the Reffke family but I as well send my sincere condolences.
Gail Hochberg January 27, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Ellen, I don't think any cameras are going to help but please see my comments below regarding footbridges.
paul January 27, 2012 at 12:35 AM
To Gail: Yes you are right "this is not a perfect world so there will always be inconsiderate and careless drivers" and I will add to that - the possibility of pedestrian inattention while walking. An overpass? Save your tax dollars and don't hold your breath. Doubtful that will ever happen. People would still choose the shorter distance of crossing at the corner...
Gail Hochberg January 27, 2012 at 12:43 AM
Paul, know how many times people have crossed right in front of the car even as the traffic light has turned green in my favor, without even looking and not all are plugged into ipods or Walkmans. People have got to be more alert... but they are not. I appreciate your feedback! Putting similar thoughts into "Merrick Life." Hope the editor posts it in next week's issue since it will still be relevant and fresh.
paul January 27, 2012 at 01:28 AM
As in any accident, the investigators look at all sides. From driver inattention, pedestrian inattention etc. Thank you for agreeing with my thoughts about driver inattention. I always post this type of statement when I read about an unfortunate accident. That is just a reality of the carelessness people have these days. This reminds me about another topic: Lawsuits by people who have sued saying they tripped or their leg got caught in a gap between the train and the platform. Hog wash..... Those are all passenger inattention, and not one dollar ever should have been paid out. NEVER EVER. The gap did not grow over the years, if people were less distracted and watched what they were doing that would not have been the case....
Merrick7 January 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM
Gail as an example why such a foot bridge would not work at Hofstra University a foot bridge government funded (yes I know weird) was built over hempstead tpke by the Oak street intersection. It is hardly ever used hundreds of students walk across the six lane thoroughfare each day ignoring the safer route and running when there is a light or not across the intersection and cars are just as bad as on sunrise highway. The foot bridge is not the answer. I am not saying I know what is. But actually in a study of Lynbrook it was suggested to perform a road diet on sunrise and merrick road similar to what was just completed in Great Neck Plaza. Look into it. Our local state Senator Fuschillo who is from Merrick and heads transportation should be written to in this regard.
joe21 January 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM
What grief! ---- Was the car that struck the person traveling straight west at the intersection of Hewlett Avenue, or was it making a turn onto Sunrise Highway? When I cross Sunrise Highway, it is often the turning vehicles (who get a green light while I have the white walk signal) that fail to yield.
Frank Melaccio January 27, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Joe I agree. The cars that have the light generally stop but the cars that are turning do not always yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk. I think the real issue is with the turning lanes.
Frank Melaccio January 27, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I'm with Gail. I don't know that we would ever get a foot bridge due to the costs and political issues but I think it would improve the safety for pedestrians that use it. As with anything, there will be people who choose not to use it. I see plenty of people cross in the middle of Sunrise Highway and not at crosswalks which is definitely dangerous considering the speed of the cars traveling on Sunrise. I would be happy, at the very least, with a flasing sign that notifies cars that a pedestrian is in the crosswalk (which is beneficial at night). Even better, perhaps if a pedestrian pushes the button, traffic could be halted for 30 seconds at all sides. I'm not sure what impact that would have on traffic but just throwing at some suggestions.
joe21 January 27, 2012 at 05:39 PM
New York State law requires cars to yield to pedestrians who are anywhere in the crosswalk, even on the other half of the roadway. At Hewlett Avenue, for example, a turning south to west must yield to pedestrians on the west crosswalk, whether the pedestrian is walking north or south. ---- Regarding turning all vehicular signals red for a walk period, Henry Barnes introduced this to several intersections in Manhattan (East 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, for one) in the mid-1960's, but the "Barnes Dance" was later abolished. In the same era, I recall several signals on South Broadway, Yonkers, that likewise halted all traffic, but that addition to the cycle caused north-south traffic snarls. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Barnes_%28traffic_engineer%29
Gail Hochberg January 28, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Frank, today I had been at DSW Shoes, on Old Country Road, making a left turn when the green left turn signal was in my favor, heading back home (Eastbound) and there's this pedestrian crossing the road, from North to South, taking her sweet time. So glad that I am a cautious enough driver to know that there are going to be people like that at a crossing but I am aware that there are many drivers out there with a heavy foot on the accelerator where this person would never have had a chance. She would have made some huge dent in anyone's fender.


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