SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Police continue to investigate a crash in Seekonk that claimed the lives of two people Monday evening.
The Bristol County District Attorney’s office identified the victims on Tuesday as Robert and Winifred Langevin of Pawtucket. Both were 70 years old.
The crash took place just after 6 p.m. at the intersection of Route 44 (Taunton Avenue) and Lincoln Street. The DA’s office said the initial investigation showed a Corvette driven by Mr. Langevin was at a stop sign on the northern side of Lincoln Street as a Jeep Wrangler driven by a 25-year-old woman was heading eastbound on Route 44.
Witnesses told police the Corvette tried to cross Route 44 as the Jeep approached the intersection. The DA’s office said the Jeep driver “applied her brakes and attempted to swerve out of the way of the Corvette, but had no opportunity to do so as the Corvette had cut right in front of her vehicle.”
On Tuesday, a fence was visibly damaged at the scene of the crash and there was shattered glass in the grass.
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Mrs. Langevin was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the DA’s office, while Mr. Langevin was taken to Rhode Island Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
The Jeep driver was also transported to the hospital for minor injuries.
While the crash is still being investigated, the DA’s office noted “it does not appear at this time” that any criminal charges will be filed.
Seekonk Police Chief Dean Isabella also told 12 News alcohol and excessive speed did not appear to be factors.
Area residents told 12 News the intersection where the crash took place has been a problem spot for years.
Steve Garcia said he’s witnessed anywhere from 20 to 30 crashes behind his home of 15 years, which is adjacent to Route 44 and Lincoln Street. He said he even altered the landscaping in his backyard to shield his family from potential crashes.
“They’ve been pretty bad,” Garcia said. “I don’t know how many people need to die here before someone takes action.”
He said the intersection is not viewable, unless you’re familiar with the area.
“People are coming out, not crossing the path immediately, maybe taking their time, and they get hit by the oncoming traffic coming up from the top of the hill,” he explained.
A “Hill Blocks View” sign noting the 40 mph speed limit can be seen further down Route 44. Garcia said he and other residents are hoping for more changes, however, like a red light, flashing beacon, or even changing Lincoln Street to a one-way road.
Seekonk Town Administrator Shawn Cadime told 12 News that Route 44, a state road that falls under the jurisdiction of MassDOT, “has been an ongoing issue for years.” Cadime said the town has been working with Rep. Steven Howitt to advocate for improvements since 2012.
Cadime noted that in 2012, MassDOT had a Low Cost Safety Improvements program consisting of signage and pavement markings. He said Seekonk requested the Taunton Avenue/Lincoln Street location be included in the program.
The town’s request resulted in the replacement of the existing 30” stop signs on the right-hand side of both approaches of Lincoln Street, with 36” stop signs on both approaches, according to Cadime. He added that advance stop ahead signs were added and pavement markings were replaced with high-visibility thermoplastic markings.
In late 2016, the town sent a letter to MassDOT requesting a review of the speed limit on Route 44 from the Rehoboth line to Arcade Avenue.
The following January, Cadime said MassDOT conducted a Road Safety Audit for the “Resurfacing and Related Work on Route 44.” The study highlighted safety issues and identified potential safety enhancements, while an audit called for “an evaluation and feasibility of reducing the speed limit on Route 44 in the vicinity of Lincoln Street and consideration of restricting left turns onto Route 44 from Lincoln Street,” according to Cadime.
The next year, the town sent another letter to MassDOT expressing specific safety concerns Seekonk residents had with the Route 44 and Lincoln Street intersection.
At this time, the town formally requested consideration be given to reducing the speed limit in the area “to match the safe stopping sight distance for vehicles entering from Lincoln Street as well as left-turning vehicles stopped on Route 44 eastbound,” Cadime said. Additionally, the town requested consideration be given to installing a flashing beacon suspended above the intersection to alert drivers of the intersection.
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By April 2019, Cadime said Seekonk received notice from MassDOT that its Project Review Committee had approved a project involving intersection improvements and roadway resurfacing within the town of Seekonk, and initial plans included a proposed flashing beacon and limited sidewalks at the Route 44 and Lincoln Street intersection.
“The last update provided to the Town showed that the project was anticipated to be advertised for construction in the spring of 2021,” Cadime wrote in an email to 12 News.
“The road construction has taken place but the flashing beacon has not been installed,” he added. “The Town is trying to confirm if the flashing beacon was included in the final construction documents and if so when we could expect construction of the beacon.”
Cadime told 12 News that Seekonk’s police chief and public works superintendent have scheduled a meeting to discuss whether it’s possible to limit Lincoln Street to one-way traffic.
“While this will not eliminate the concerns that the Town has about limited sight distance, skewed alignment and high travel speeds of 50-55 mph on Route 44, it may help to reduce the serious motor vehicle accidents that occur at that intersection,” Cadime said. “Even with the one-ways in place, there will still be the opportunity for motorist to make turns either onto Lincoln Street or Route 44.”