Police Release Name of Driver Killed in One-Car Crash

Charred leaves and burned trees remained at the site on Red Dirt Road, Amagansett, where a man was killed late Friday. Hampton Pix

    A Springs man, Samuel Spielberg, 31, was killed in a one-car crash late Friday night.

    First responders reported finding his 2002 Toyota 4Runner in woods off Red Dirt Road, just west of Old Stone Highway. The SUV, which had overturned, was engulfed in flames, said to be shooting 20 feet in the air.

    A call alerting East Hampton Town police to the crash was logged in at 11:27 p.m. The initial police report said the car had "failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway."

    After the Amagansett Fire Department extinguished the blaze, Mr. Spielberg's body was found in the burnt-out vehicle. Police said he was its sole occupant. Police are interviewing witnesses who saw Mr. Spielberg shortly before his death, and conducting a safety inspection of the car.

    In an interview last week, before the crash, Chief Edward Ecker pointed out that Old Stone Highway and its ancillary roads, unlike a number of other roads in the town that have the word "highway" in them, is just that: a main thoroughfare for traffic headed to Springs from Amagansett and Montauk. Speaking of Jeffrey Ahn, who was struck and killed by a taxicab as he walked along Old Stone Highway in June, the chief remarked that the roads in that neighborhood  are narrow and winding, and have no shoulder.

    Mr. Spielberg was the second road-related fatality this month in the Town of East Hampton. Kelly Anne Doroski, 23, of East Hampton died in a one-car crash on Route 114 on Feb. 7.

    Last year, town police reported eight deaths on the roads, the most in at least 10 years, even as the total number of reported accidents continued a 10-year trend of decline. Car accidents have declined in 9 of the past 10 years, from 1,055 in 2003, to 870 in 2012, a decrease of almost 18 percent.

    Chief Ecker, in the department's annual report, released earlier this month, put a heavy priority for the upcoming year on making the roads of East Hampton safer. He could not attribute any clear pattern to last year's eight incidents, an unusually high number.

    Town police statistics show that the number of fatalities has swung up and down over the past decade. Between 2003 and 2005, for example, there were a total of 17 road deaths, during years when there was an average of over 1,000 accidents reported per year.

    There were six fatalities on the roads between 2006 and 2008, and none at all in 2009. Two thousand ten saw four road deaths, with only one in 2011, before last year's number spiked to eight.

    Throughout the decade the number of reported accidents other than fatalities has declined steadily, bottoming out at 870 last year, the fewest in recent memory.