Cross Bay crash kills one

An 18-year-old man was killed when the car he was riding in along Cross Bay Boulevard collided with another car then struck a telephone pole.
The accident occurred at 11:58 p.m. on Sunday, September 23 at the intersection of Cross Bay Boulevard and 160th Avenue in Howard Beach. Police say the 19-year-old man who was driving the 1994 Honda Civic was attempting to change lanes when he collided with a 2004 Toyota Camry driven by a 24-year-old man. The Honda then crashed into a telephone pole, killing the passenger.
The identities of the victim and drivers have not been released, and no charges have been filed in the ongoing investigation.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) said the intersection is not considered dangerous. In the last five years, only six accidents have been reported, said DOT spokesperson Craig Chin. None have been fatal.
The historical safety of the intersection raises some questions among locals as to whether drag racing may have been involved in the accident.
“I wouldn’t be surprised at all, because drag racing always goes on down here,” said Janet Holzhauer, who has spent all of her 44 years in Howard Beach and works on Cross Bay Boulevard. “This area is known for it. At night, a group of drag racers meets at Dunkin’ Donuts to hang out, and then they go racing.”
Others, however, are hesitant to draw such conclusions.
“You see kids everywhere - you know how they drive,” said Gabriella Gramenides, who has lived in Howard Beach for 10 years. “I think they were just driving too fast. I’ve never heard of [drag racing] happening around here.”
“I think it’s probably just some reckless teens,” added Howard Beach resident Emily Quinones.
Lieutenant Michael Coyle of the 106th Precinct said Cross Bay Boulevard “does not lend itself to drag racing because of the high volume of cars.”
Holzhauer counters that the police are unaware of what goes on.
“The kids know the changing of the police shifts,” she said. “There are cops out, but not when they’re changing shifts. All this goes on between 10 [p.m.] and midnight, during the shift changes.”
Holzhauer added that the lights along Cross Bay Boulevard are sequenced so that they all turn green at the same time, allowing potential drag racers to speed on for many blocks before hitting a red light.
“They’ve got it down to a science,” she said.
But if police are unaware of the racing, local residents are not alerting them, said Coyle.
“We’ve not gotten any complaints from the community,” said the Lieutenant.
Councilmember Joe Addabbo, however, says drag racing has been a problem along Cross Bay, though he did not offer speculation on whether the September 23 accident was a result of it.
“Throughout the years, it’s been an issue,” he said. “Pedestrians have been hit and people have been killed.”
Howard Beach Civic Forum member Nina DeBlasio, on the other hand, feels the community is largely free of drag racing.
“To my knowledge, there has not been any [racing],” said DeBlasio “No one has ever brought it to my attention or to the Civic’s attention. If someone did, I have every confidence the 106 Precinct would address it and put a stop to it.”

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