It wasn’t a Smurf attempting to cross Route 48 in Cutchogue after all.
Southold Town was forced to pay out more than $7,000 to three drivers who had their vehicles damaged after a bucket of blue paint spilled off a town highway department truck on July 1 and splattered onto the road in Cutchogue, records show.
Southold Highway Superintendent Vincent Orlando said that a highway truck was carrying a trailer of paint cans to repaint Love Lane when a stencil fell and knocked over a blue can of paint — meant to repaint handicapped parking spaces — about 9 p.m.
The wet paint coated a section of the road three residents later drove over, reporting that they were unable to see the spill since it was so dark, according to legal documents. The paint splashed up onto the underside, tires and driver’s side of all three vehicles, according to letters written to the town by the three drivers.
Mr. Orlando said the highway employees didn’t realize what had happened because they were pulling the trailer.
In a letter filed with the town and posted to its website, driver John Rumpler IV of Southold said he saw the accident happen and followed the town pickup truck to the highway department yard and spoke with several town employees who “immediately took action to remediate the issue.”
“We went back actually that night and tried to clean it up as best we could,” Mr. Orlando said.
The highway employees also tried powerwashing Mr. Rumpler’s car, but not only were unable to remove some of the paint, but accidentally caused damage to his vehicle, according to the letter. The repairs to his Dodge Ram cost $2,515.02, according to an insurance filing; the town board voted on July 15 to reimburse Mr. Rumpler for the damage.
Two other drivers — Bill Smith of Shelter Island and Gene Walker of East Marion — also submitted letters to the town asking to be reimbursed for paint damage. They were paid $3,305.45 and $1,212.93, respectively, after a Town Board vote on July 29.
Mr. Orlando said the county Department of Public Works has since painted over the blue paint spill and removed a sign that jokingly dubbed the intersection a “Smurf X-ing.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the paint spill occurred on Sound Avenue. The street name is Route 48.