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Cops: Queens man dies in Southern crash in Nassau

State Police have identified the victim of a fatal car accident on the Southern State Parkway in South Hempstead as 25-year-old Queens Village resident Michael Raghunandan.

Also injured in the 6:45 a.m. crash were Stacy Esterine, 44, of Pineville N.C., and a 17-year-old passenger whose identity was not released by police.

Law enforcement officials said that Raghunandan was driving east on the Southern State Parkway just west of the Grand Avenue / Baldwin Road ramps at Exit 20 when his vehicle struck from behind a Suzuki SUV carrying Esterine and her passenger.

"The Mazda then struck and traveled through the guide rail on the south shoulder, before striking a sign post and several trees," police said in a news release about the accident.

Raghunandan was pronounced dead at the scene, and Esterine and her passenger were treated at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre for non-life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the accident is under investigation, but the crash caused the closure of all eastbound lanes just before 10 a.m. at Exit 20, according to the state Department of Transportation website,

The parkway reopened at 12:31 p.m., the site said. An initial closure, reported at 6:50 a.m., affected only the center and right lanes of the eastbound parkway.

The accident occurred on the stretch of the Southern State called Blood Alley, notorious for fatal wrecks for nearly three decades.

The 10-mile stretch is between Exit 17 in Malverne and Exit 32 in South Farmingdale; in the early 1990s it was a target area for the state's effort to improve safety.

After 14 deaths in head-on collisions between 1984 and 1990, the state put in median barriers and modified the grading of the highway to give drivers more traction between Exits 17 and 21. The work cost the DOT about $500,000 to have median barriers installed at three spots in South Hempstead in 1988.

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