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Wheatfield supervisor says road where two teens were killed is ‘not safe’

WHEATFIELD – Shawnee Road, where two pedestrians were killed early Saturday, “is not a safe road,” Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe says.

But there doesn’t seem to be much the town can do about it, he adds.

The deaths occurred about 1:20 a.m. when a southbound vehicle struck the northbound walkers on the two-lane road that was lined with parked cars on both sides.

“To have parking on both sides is the probable cause of the problem,” Cliffe said.

Initial police reports said the pedestrians may have been walking in the traffic lane, just inside the fog line that divides the traffic lane from the shoulder.

Cliffe said he asked the town highway superintendent, Paul A. Siegmann, if the town could ban parking on one side of the road.

The answer: “Because it’s a state road, we probably can’t do that.”

Shawnee Road, which has a 55 mph speed limit, is part of State Route 425.

“You can request the state to do it, but it’s their road,” Councilman Randy W. Retzlaff said.

“We’re not supposed to legislate or put on traffic control devices,” Town Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said.

Susan S. Surdej, regional spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, confirmed Tuesday that any changes on Shawnee Road are up to the DOT.

“Any changes they feel they want, they can reach out to the DOT and we can work cooperatively,” she said. “We’re receptive if the town has any improvements they want to suggest, but as of now, we’ve received nothing.” Surdej said the area where the accident occurred “does have adequate paved shoulders,” and there is no history of accident reports there.

Melanie Aronow, 18, of Amherst, and Quincy Harper, 18, of Lockport, were killed in the accident. Quincy Byrd, 18, of Lockport, was released Sunday after treatment at Erie County Medical Center. They and others had been attending a party at a house on the road.

Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour said no charges have been filed against the driver, Carly Marrs, 20, but the investigation is continuing.

“We are examining speed, lighting, condition of driver and distractions,” Voutour said.

Investigators also want to talk to the host of the party, Voutour said.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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