On Friday, April 4, a car flipped into Steinway Creek in Astoria and killed four young Queens residents, all between the ages of 19 and 21. Only the driver, 20 year-old Andrew Gramm, survived.
Around 10:30 p.m. on a rainy night, the car of five friends was traveling on 19th Avenue when Gramm tried to make a U-turn and park at the end of the street. Steinway Creek runs along the edge of the dead-end road, and Gramm lost control of the car, which jumped a curb and flipped into the water.
Gramm was able to escape the sinking vehicle and called 911, but his friends — Jada Monique Butts, Darius Fletcher, Jaleel Furtado and Crystal Gravely — were all dead by the time they were extricated from the car and taken to area hospitals.
Since the crash, friends, family and community members have mourned the loss of the four young friends, and Gianaris wonders what could have been done to prevent the accident.
Leading up to the road there are “Dead End” signs, but a sign that marks the end of 19th Ave. where the road meets the creek was apparently missing when the crash occurred.
Questions have also arisen regarding the strength of the chain-link fence that was serving as a barrier between the road and the creek at the time of the accident. DOT has since secured the area with jersey barriers and barrels.
“As our community deals with this tragic accident, we must work together to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” Gianaris said. “DOT must make our streets safer by reviewing all roads leading to waterways, as there may be similar dangers in other neighborhoods throughout our city. This accident was avoidable, and something must be done to keep people safe as they drive, walk or cycle on our roadways.”
A DOT spokesperson said that an “End” sign had been installed at the intersection of 19th Ave. and the creek in October of last year, but a review of the history of the area does not indicate there were any recent requests for traffic controls or additional signage.
The spokesperson also said that “DOT is also reviewing Senator Gianaris’ request and will review conditions at streets ending near water or other similar locations.”