It’s unfortunate that some long-standing traffic problems gain widespread attention only after a tragedy, but here it is, again. Two teenage pedestrians were killed over the weekend on Shawnee Road in the Town of Wheatfield. Neighbors have complained, some loudly, in the past about accidents along the road.
The latest tragedy sparked another call to action. This time, it’s Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe, who said Shawnee “is not a safe road.” He and other town officials would do something about it, except it is a state road, State Route 425.
It is where the promising lives of Melanie Aronow and Quincy Harper ended early Saturday morning. They were killed while walking with two others on the narrow two-lane road crowded with parked cars. Quincy Byrd, 18, of Lockport, who was walking with them, was flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center. He was released Sunday.
The teens were among a number of young people from the Lockport area who attended a party at a house on Shawnee Road. The three young people were struck by a southbound vehicle as they were walking north on Shawnee. Cars were parked on both sides of the road. A fourth member of the group was not hurt and immediately called 911.
It is sad to reflect upon young lives lost. Aronow, a recent Lockport High School graduate described by friends as “fun” and “bubbly,” had plans to leave for SUNY Fredonia State. Harper, a football-basketball athlete with a “million-dollar smile and a heart of gold,” wanted to become a great athlete.
It is, as a man who lives near the accident site said, unimaginably painful to witness a father walk up and see his daughter dead.
All tragedies cannot be avoided. But it should be noted that neighbors say accidents occasionally occur along Shawnee Road. One described a drunken driver plowing through his front yard into his house a few years ago. The driver was apprehended after police discovered the imprint of the car’s license plate embedded in the outside wall.
“Cars fly by here,” said the neighbor.
The accidents are not necessarily the fault of the road, but a study can determine whether changes are necessary. Local officials have raised concerns, and they need to work with the state Department of Transportation to evaluate the road and report back to the public.