October 04, 2006

Accident Stalls Traffic

An accident on the Orient/East Marion causeway on Sunday left hundreds of Cross Sound Ferry passengers stuck in traffic and LIPA crews working furiously to remove downed power lines.

At 6:04 p.m. on Sunday, Orient resident Katelyn Mdacimo, 17, was driving westbound when she lost control of her 2004 Ford pickup truck and struck a utility pole. The accident caused high voltage power lines to fall to the ground, blocking the entire roadway.

The East Marion Fire Department responded and transported Mdacimo to a Suffolk County Police helicopter, which airlifted her to Stony Brook Hospital, where she was treated for "very minor injuries," according to a Southold Town police report.

The accident, however, created havoc for travelers on Route 25, which was closed for three hours as LIPA crews worked furiously to try and get one lane open.

Southold Town police were unable to detour traffic as Route 25 is the only road to Orient in the area.

"People getting off the ferry were stuck in Orient for hours," said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell, who added that one woman even went into labor and was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center.

"By the time we could get the road clear in at least one direction, there were several hundred cars waiting to get to the ferry," said Russell.

Stan Mickus, director of marketing for the Cross Sound Ferry, said that it had been "a very unfortunate incident. We are glad to hear that the victim is recuperating."

Meanwhile, he said, CSF's passengers "were very understanding, considering the circumstances." CSF, he said, had two trips depart from Orient Point virtually empty at 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. "We held the last ferry out of Orient at 8:45 p.m. for almost a half an hour until 9:10 p.m. to allow for those who were taking the ferry to get to us." He added that CSF is also refunding anyone who may have missed their reservations and were unable to travel on the ferry.

Both Southold Town Police Captain Martin Flatley and Kevin Webster, Southold Town Assessor and East Marion volunteer firefighter, commended a community that came together in a crisis. "Between the efforts of Orient, East Marion and Greenport emergency responders," said Webster, "it was a job well done."

Russell agreed: "The fire department was right there and showed why they are the most important asset we have as a community," even making a fire house available for passengers stranded on the easterly side.

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