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February 12, 2019 - 5:55pm

State DOT declines to address road conditions at site of double fatal accident in Elba

posted by Howard B. Owens in department of transportation, dot, Route 98, accident, news, notify.

In response to a request for information on the lack of a snow fence and plow times on Route 98 the day of a double fatal accident in Elba, the state Department of Transportation issued a statement today that didn't address either issue.

A spokesman did not respond, after several hours, to The Batavian's request for information on those specific issues.

Here's the DOT's official statement about the crash Feb. 2 that took the lives of mother and son, Teresa M. Norton, 53, and Thomas M. Norton, 22, both of Albion:

This was a tragic incident. DOT’s primary focus is highway safety, which includes snow and ice preparation and response. We maintain thousands of miles on highways statewide and follow snow and ice guidelines to address severe winter weather in Upstate New York. DOT’s maintenance crews were working diligently throughout that weekend in Genesee County, engaged in snow and ice operations on state highways.

The accident occurred within days of significant snowfall when the wind was blowing at about 30 mph through the county. There were significant snow drives across patches of Route 98 that afternoon, including one where Teresa Norton's 2008 Suzuki slide sideways through heavy snow and was hit broadside by a pickup truck.  

Both mother and son were pronounced dead at the scene.

Jeffrey Houseknecht
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Over the years being on the road daily delivering to different towns and counties I have seen plows going down the road with the blade down and no snow anywhere dropping salt, then watch as snow piles up sometimes 3-4 inches and not a plow in site.And to top it off now the state plows only run at 30 mph and hold everything up,used to be they ran a little below the speed limit.I really would like an explanation on that one

robert hilchey
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The state and towns and county do a job that always is going to be criticized, no matter what, many accidents can be avoided by slowing down !! Why do people want to blame someone ??

Jeffrey Houseknecht
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Not true at all,The town of sweden was always great at having the roads clear,also town of middlebury did a great job lots of the towns are understaffed also but you can't say that about the state,problem with them is decisions are not made on the local level

Howard B. Owens
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This isn't about blame. It's about getting the facts.

We don't know the full story. I think the full story is important.

tera bonner
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The "defendant(s)" may be covered under the "Storm in Progress" doctrine under NYS Law should a lawsuit be filed.

Cheryl Saville
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My thoughts are the State may bear some responsibility due to the lack of snow fencing. If that had been done in November the road may not have been as badly covered. We all understand that Highway Departments, whether State or local are stretched to the limit in storms. Rte 98, running north-south, is a main road that should have been proactively maintained. Is there more information about the lack of snow fencing, Howard?

According to the Batavian report at the time of the accident "The property west of the accident, according to county records, is owned by Torrey Farms. According to sources, there were no snow fences installed along the west side of Route 98. NYS Department of Transportation is responsible for maintenance of Route 98, including erecting snow fences where they might be needed."

Daniel Norstrand
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It seems like the first article stated that the area in question had snow fencing in the past. Which would be the gist of the whole situation. If snow fencing was at the very location of the accident in the past then the state was aware that that location was a problem that required the proactive fencing. And that someone made a decision not to fence at some point. That person or his superior has some explaining to do. The public deserves it.

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