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SHRINE MARKS SITE WHERE 3 TEENS DIED

Three makeshift white crosses stand steady against the whipping winds generated by traffic along Southwestern Boulevard, bearing the hand-lettered final farewells of teenagers who lost their friends on that stretch of road last week.

A few inches from the cross bearing Daryl L. Thompson's name waves a small Marine Corps flag, a reminder of the future he had planned. A small card reads: "Daryl, Hope you like roses. I miss you so much, I'm so upset. We all are. You didn't deserve to die. I hope it's better where you are. I love you. Kristen."

Nearby hangs a lacrosse jersey from the Hamburg Knights, the team John P. "Jack" Gallivan and Daniel E. Otremba played on. On the front, messages from the Zeis family: "May there be lacrosse in heaven!" and "Lord take care of these boys."

Teens and adults stop throughout the day and night, pulling off the road to pay their silent respects, offer prayers for the dead. In pairs and alone, those left behind come here to light a candle, to leave a photograph or a note -- to say goodbye.

As the survivors grieve, officials are seeking changes on the road to prevent another tragedy, and investigators are coming closer to learning what caused the accident at the Buckingham Lane intersection.

State Sen. Dale M. Volker, R-Depew, and Hamburg town officials have been lobbying the state Department of Transportation for weeks to make Route 20, Southwestern Boulevard, safer. Two months ago, a teenage girl died after she was hit by a car. Two weeks ago, a young man was seriously injured after he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. And last week, the three Frontier High School teens perished.

The state plans to create a center-turn lane on the road over the next several years, but officials are urging some temporary solution in the meantime.

The state DOT began a review of Southwestern Boulevard a few weeks ago, said Timothy D. Roach, assistant traffic and safety engineer. The DOT expects to have the data collected and analyzed by the end of this year, Roach said.
e-mail: mpasciak@buffnews.com

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