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Valley Stream crash into transmission tower kills driver, cops say

First responders at the scene of a deadly

First responders at the scene of a deadly accident Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016, on Peninsula Boulevard in Valley Stream, where a car struck a guardrail and catapulted into a power transmission tower.

A Ronkonkoma man was killed in Valley Stream after his vehicle slammed into a guardrail and catapulted into a power line tower about 100 feet away, causing the structure to bow, authorities said Friday.

Navado Pratt, 29, was ejected from his 2006 Infiniti G35 when he lost control of his car about 11:45 p.m. Thursday on Peninsula Boulevard by Locust Street, Nassau County police said. The car flew into the metal trusses of a high-tension transmission tower spaced in the gully of the median.

The car, perched on one of the tower’s stanchions, was so crushed and mangled that several residents and responders couldn’t determine at first if anyone was in the car.

Some used flashlights as they searched for occupants for blocks, peering into the high vegetation lining the embankments of the gully, said Jacques Beckerman, 42, a resident who rushed to the scene after seeing police lights.

“Everybody was kind of looking up and down,” Beckerman said. “It was like ‘Where’s the body?’ ”

Using spotlights, authorities said, the body was found in the water, a few houses down from the car. But authorities, including a police dog and its handler, continued searching for others overnight, unsure if Pratt had been the sole occupant.

With Tropical Storm Hermine advancing, PSEG Long Island crews made temporary repairs Friday to stabilize the tower by using high-tension cable and wood poles to take some weight of the wires off the tower, spokesman Jeffrey Weir said.

“We’re doing some significant work to make it safe,” he said. “Ultimately, we would evaluate the health of the tower to decide whether or not it needs to be replaced with something that’s similar to what is there now or if there’s another solution.”

Police said the crash investigation continues. The car was impounded for safety checks.

An investigator at the scene said speed was “more than likely” a factor in the crash on the boulevard, a main thoroughfare for trucks and workers commuting between Queens and the southern part of Nassau County.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Fifth Precinct Det. Sgt. Kevin Burke, who has worked in the area for 24 for years.

When he heard about the crash at the station, the investigator said, he could not envision how it could have happened because no vehicle in his memory had ever hit one of the towers.

“Seeing it doesn’t clarify anything more,” Burke said.

The crash occurred just after a curve on the southwest-bound portion of Peninsula Boulevard, a stretch of roadway that residents at the crash scene said has been dangerous for years. They point to trees and lawns hit in crashes with fatalities or serious injuries.

“They come flying,” Beckerman said of drivers.

The speed limit is 30 mph but some residents said they’ve seen cars going as fast as 100 mph.

Bill Yenna, who has lived in Valley Stream for 42 of his 51 years, said the road is primarily a long, straight stretch that tempts many drivers to speed.

He wants authorities to place speed bumps on the boulevard to prevent crashes: “That’s the only way.”

With Gary Dymski

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