The death on Saturday of a 17-year-old high school student who was struck by a passing taxi on Old Stone Highway in Amagansett was made all the more painful in that it appeared to have been avoidable. Sometimes accidents are just that, incidents born of chance, nothing more. Other times, we can’t escape the sense that had things just been a little different, a tragedy could have been averted.
Had Jeffrey Ahn and his friends been walking on the grass instead of the pavement when the Lindy’s van passed, he would likely be alive today. Would it have mattered if the taxi that struck him had been moving more slowly or its driver paying greater attention? We can’t know. Once the group made the decision to walk to Jeffrey’s house instead of call for a ride, perhaps the die was cast, perhaps not.
South Fork roads this time of the year hum with more motorists than they can handle. Add to that poor sightlines and no shoulders along many stretches and bicyclists, pedestrians, and other motorists are put at risk. Things get much worse with the addition of alcohol and cellphones, both of which sharply decrease reaction times and the ability of those at the wheel, and both of which seem part and parcel of the South Fork summer.
In the aftermath of this terrible event drivers must slow down. There is not much more that we, as individuals, can do, but it just might make the difference.
As to the responsibility of public officials, there is no excuse for not widening important thoroughfares like Old Stone Highway to allow for bike lanes, which also could be used as safe zones for those on foot. East Hampton is no longer the quiet out-of-the-way spot it once was, and government must respond to assure the safety of all those who use its roads.