A Nassau County girl with Down Syndrome was killed by a hit-and-run driver early Sunday morning. She was attempting to cross the Hempstead Turnpike, a six-lane highway, possibly in an effort to visit her grandfather a few miles away in Hicksville. She was struck by a minivan, described by police as a blue Chrysler Town and Country that was two or three years old. EMTs took the girl to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. She was pronounced dead by hospital staff around 4:30 AM.
According to the girl’s mother, her daughter had only left the house at night unsupervised once before, around 10 years ago.
Hempstead Turnpike appears frequently on lists of dangerous roadways in the NYC area, with 12 deaths reported between 2010 and 2012. According to Newsday, hundreds of deaths and injuries from car crashes and pedestrian accidents have occurred along this stretch of highway. Traffic safety advocates say that the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) has not installed enough traffic safety measures such as medians that can serve as safety refuges for pedestrians. Many proponents of better safety have pushed to reduce the turnpike from six lanes to four in order to slow traffic.
According to police, the driver of the van that hit the teen left the scene of the fatality going east on Hempstead Turnpike and then continuing north onto the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway. Police are seeking information about the driver and the van.
Source: Newsday, “Hit-and-run driver kills Bryanna Soplin crossing Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown,” Jun. 15, 2014.