Laurel man struck and killed while crossing Route 48

A pedestrian was killed crossing Sound Avenue Thursday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)
A pedestrian was killed crossing Sound Avenue Thursday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

UPDATE (6:40 a.m.): Southold police identified the victim of Thursday night’s accident as 86-year-old Howard Meinke of Laurel.

Police said Mr. Meinke was attempting to cross Route 48 in Greenport in a marked crosswalk when he was struck by a vehicle headed east driven by 41-year-old Eric Melrose of Greenport. Mr. Meinke had been leaving the Soundview Restaurant with family after attending an Italian dinner fundraiser for Eastern Long Island Hospital Auxiliary, family members said.

Mr. Meinke was transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

No criminal charges have been filed, and the case is pending further investigation. Mr. Melrose’s vehicle was impounded for a safety inspection.

Police Chief Martin Flatley said Mr. Meinke’s wife had already crossed the street when Mr. Meinke was hit. The driver told police that he didn’t see Mr. Meinke until it was too late.

Mr. Flatley said the straight road often makes it difficult for pedestrians to gauge vehicle’s speeds; that, combined with the darkness around the crosswalk at night, likely contributed to the accident, he said.

Mr. Meinke was a former president of the North Fork Environmental Council and a frequent contributor to The Suffolk Times’ opinion section.

His letters typically touched on topic ranging from local environmental concerns to global warming to economic inequality.

“He was probably one of the most passionate people that you’d want,” said Bill Toedter, current president of the NFEC. “Nothing flew off the top of his head, everything was very thought out. He was concerned with getting the facts right, but sometimes his heart and passion for the North Fork overrode everything.

“It’s a big loss for the East End,” Mr. Toedter said.

Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski had been at the fundraiser and had spoken to Mr. Meinke just before the accident.

“We were pretty shocked, because we had just seen him,” he said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of everyone involved.”

Mr. Krupski said the County Legislature had approved measures last year to divert the road — which has a 50-mph speed limit — further south to address safety concerns. Two other pedestrians had previously been killed in the same spot in 2007 and 2009.

Construction on the roadway is set to begin in 2016, with a divider being built in between the lanes of traffic for pedestrians to stop in.

“This is in the works,” he said. “We know it’s a dangerous part of the road.”

Mr. Krupski said he spoke with the Department of Public Works commissioner Friday morning about the plan, but added that the effort would take time since it still needed to be designed and utility poles would have to be moved.

“It’s a complicated project,” he said. “It’s not just a repaving.” Mr. Krupski said interim measures, like lowering the speed limit, may not make the area any safer.

“You can lower the speed, but that always comes down to enforcement,” he said.

Original Story: Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley said a man was killed Thursday night while crossing Route 48 in Greenport as he was leaving a restaurant.

The man, whose identification is being held pending notification of next of kin, was apparently leaving Soundview Restaurant and crossing the street southbound around 8 p.m. when he was struck by the vehicle, the chief said.

Greenport Fire Department responded to the scene and transported the victim to Eastern Long Island Hospital.

Thursday’s fatality was the second one of the day in Southold. Just after midnight, a 30-year-old mother drove into the woods in Orient Point with her 18-month-old daughter. The mother was killed in the single-car crash.

Check back with more information as it becomes available.

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred to the area of the accident as Sound Avenue, not Route 48.