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Police: Wrong-Way Driver Killed In Taconic State Parkway Crash Was Drunk

But Many Say Signage Directing Drivers Is Insufficient Even For The Sober

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YORKTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A wrong-way driver had a blood-alcohol level of four times the legal limit when she slammed into another vehicle and died on the Taconic State Parkway this past weekend, authorities said Wednesday.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, Michelle Cio, 34, had crashed into a driver as she headed south in the northbound lanes of the parkway in Yorktown in her 2006 Honda Civic early this past Saturday, police said. Cio was killed, but the other driver – identified in published reports as Alicia Asadoorian, 26, of Yorktown — was not seriously injured, police said.

Cio had a blood-alcohol level of 0.32 percent at the time, police said.

It was not known Wednesday where Cio got onto the parkway or where she was going. But motorists speculated that the markings directing drivers in the right direction on the ramp at Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park are not obvious – even for a driver who is not impaired.

There is one sign at the end of the ramp, and it is a yield sign for traffic coming off the Taconic. There is nothing on the other side to warn wrong-way drivers they might be headed for disaster, Young reported.

Meanwhile, misleading markings are seen on the pavement, including arrows that seem to be pointed in the wrong direction. Follow them, and you’ll have one chance to discover your mistake before meeting oncoming traffic.

There is one set of “do not enter” signs about 200 feet up the ramp, and that is all, Young reported.

“I think the signs should be a little bigger; more of them in a row on either side,” said Toni Chiarelli. “Some places do have them on either side – ‘Wrong way, Wrong way,’ you know?”

A similar lack of signage was seen on the exit where a wrong-way driver entered the Tappan Zee Bridge last month.

In that accident, police said Michael Schechel, 69, was driving south in a white sport-utility vehicle in the northbound lanes of the bridge when his vehicle slammed head on into a Nissan that was being driven by Newman Ayeh-Brachie, 57.

A passenger of Ayeh-Brachie’s car, 57-year-old Hannah Ayeh-Brachie, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The Tappan Zee accident already has had the Thruway Authority doing a post-accident study.

As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti (D-Tarrytown) said the study should be expanded to include all state highways.

“These parkways that were designed for leisurely daylight drives through pleasant surroundings have become major thoroughfares — used at all hours — and they’re confusing,” Abinanti said. “It’s not clear where you enter. I’ve looked at several of these myself and I can see how people who are not from the area could get confused.”

But police said wrong-way drivers are almost always either distracted or impaired.

“The only way to know if better signs would help would be to actually put them up,” said New York State Police Sgt. James Kranik.

The state Department of Transportation has been placed under pressure to do just that.

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