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Calls For Highway Improvements Come After Deadly Wreck On Southern State

Stretch Of Long Island Parkway The Site Of 40 Fatalities Over Last 5 Years
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MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A birthday celebration over the weekend ended with five families grieving. Party goers crashed on the Southern State Parkway early Sunday.

As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the accident happened on a stretch of roadway that’s been dubbed “blood alley” by some and other names by other local residents.

“The southern snake is what I call it. It’s like this. It’s always turns. If you’re not paying attention, boom, you fly right off the road,” Eric Duran told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “Something has to be done.”

Flowers and mangled metal lined the Southern State, the scene where a westbound Nissan Maxima careened off the road and into trees near Exit 24 in North Merrick. The vehicle was loaded with five friends leaving a birthday party on Sunday morning.

Two were killed and the others were critically injured, police said.

The dead were identified as 20-year-old Bryan Rivas and 22-year-old Blossom Castro of Hempstead.

“We grew up together on this street together and it’s very sad,” said Calvin Garrett, a friend of the victims.

The survivors were clinging to life Monday at Winthrop University and Nassau University medical centers. They included the driver of the car, 29-year-old Kervins Boutin, a father of two and security guard in the Roosevelt School District, who survived the crash but had to have both legs amputated. He’s now charged with reckless driving and state police said more charges could follow.

His sister said Boutin’s girlfriend and her cousin were also in the car.

“He’s a very good person, very,” Wilda Pierre-Louis said.

The crash marked the second time since October a vehicle loaded with young people crashed on the Southern State in Nassau, resulting in lives lost. Residents said they heard the impact at around 5:45 a.m.

“All you heard was ‘pow,'” North Merrick resident Charlie Latka said.

Residents also said they’ve asked for guard rails, but believe the bottom line is drivers need to slow down.

“People drive too fast, that’s the problem.The 55 mph doesn’t mean anything,” Latka said. [It's] constant, you never go through a weekend where you don’t hear squealing brakes and a crash.”

State police stats show 12 fatalities on that stretch of the Southern State in the last two years and 40 in the last five years.

Now, two more families are planning funerals.

State police are asking witnesses of the crash, just east of the Meadowbrook Parkway, to come forward.

What, if anything, do you believe needs to change? Sound off below.