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Fatal crash spurs calls to widen Snake Road

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After a major auto accident killed a popular Richmond Hill teen and his driver on the dangerous section of Brookville Boulevard known as Snake Road last week, City Councilman James Sanders (D−Laurelton) is pushing for a way to widen the short cut to the Rockaways.

Sanders said the May 20 accident on Brookville Boulevard near 149th Avenue that took the lives of Chris Basdeo, 16, and driver Stephen Bachoon, 17, of Brooklyn and injured four other passengers could have been prevented if the city, state and federal governments had acted to add lanes on the narrow two−lane road.

The part of the boulevard, between 149th Avenue and Rockaway Boulevard, has been problematic for drivers for years, according to the councilman, because the road zigzags and large grasslands in Brookville Park hamper visibility.

“We must find a way to widen the streets, to put dividers and make this a safer street,” he said.

Last week Bachoon was heading southbound on Brookville Boulevard in his Toyota Corolla when he crossed into the northbound lane and collided head on with a Kia minivan, police said. Bachoon and Basdeo, who was in the front passenger seat, were pronounced dead at the scene, while the four unidentified teens who were riding in the back were rushed to Jamaica and North Shore University hospitals, according to police.

Their conditions were not released to the press. The unidentified 70−year−old driver of the Kia was taken to North Shore in stable condition, police said.

Outside Basdeo’s Richmond Hill home last Thursday, his distraught parents set up a makeshift memorial with old photos and candles. As word of his death spread within the community, more than 30 of his friends flocked to the makeshift memorial to remember the teen they called “Young Star.”

“I couldn’t sleep last night,” said Roshane Wynter, 18, who went to school with Basdeo.

His peers said Basdeo was a fun−loving fellow who liked to spend time with his friends after school at events or parties. Clint Hasnoo, 19, who said he knew the teen his entire life, said Basdeo would always lend his ear and give advice to his friends when they were in need.

“If you felt bad, he’d come to your house.” Hasnoo said.

The teens mourning outside Basdeo’s house said they did not know Bachoon or where he was heading when the accident occurred.

Sanders said Snake Road is used by Queens motorists as a way to get to the Rockaways without paying the toll on the Cross Bay Bridge. Since the road is surrounded by wetlands, the government cannot widen the road because it would remove grassland protected by the Clean Water Act, according to the councilman.

Sanders said he understands the environmental concerns about updating the roadway. He said the city could offset the loss of greenspace at the park by buying and protecting other green areas in the city.

“I understand it’s a wetland and it’s our obligation to protect nature, but human beings are nature, too,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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