NORTH FORK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Unsettling cellphone video has surfaced of a limousine driver trying to make an ill-advised and dangerous U-turn in wine country, just feet from the site of a fatal limo crash 15 months ago.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reports North Fork residents called the posted video “astonishing and alarming.”
The video shows a mega-stretch limo stuck on a Cutchogue winery road, trying to negotiate a three-point turn. It called into question the driver and passengers’ behavior.
This happened a mere 500 feet from County Road 48 and Depot Lane intersection where in July 2014 four young women lost their lives – and four other friends seriously injured – when the limo they hired made a blind U-turn and was T-boned by an oncoming pickup truck.
Since then, there are new traffic signals and stepped up patrols in wine country.
“That whole video happened because of the enforcement we are doing on County Road 48 and Depot Lane preventing limos from making U-turns,” said Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley.
Many members of the Long Island Wine Council are now going a step further and restricting limos and buses as they hired weekend security to turn them around.
“A long limo, if you are backing up and have 20 feet of car in your way, can’t see very clearly,” said Salim Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards.
Wine tastings for a few have grown to become wine-guzzling parties with limos and buses.
“We are doing the best we can do by controlling appointments, turning away people if they don’t have an appointment if they are in large groups, because we just can’t accommodate and service them the way we want to,” said Julie Vergari of Raphael Vineyards.
However, some worry limo restrictions could create more drunk driving.
“I really don’t think that would be a good idea because it could make more people want to take vehicles out and drive on their own,” said Paul Dury of Mattituck.
Others want a controlled setting, especially on rural roads where grapes grow.
“Local laws have to be better enforced or changed to accommodate the situation,” said Irene Perkakis of Cutchogue.
Another reason residents and wineries want the ban – stretch limos have no safety standards, regulation or oversight, once they leave the factory and are modified and altered.
Others in the wine council are urging curbs on stretch limo weight, and limits on number of passengers.