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Legal papers: Two survivors of deadly LIE crash plan to sue state

The fatal collision occurred Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016,

The fatal collision occurred Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, in the Long Island Expressway westbound lanes, right, between Exits 68 and 69 in Manorville. Photo Credit: Edmund J. Coppa

The stretch of the Long Island Expressway where six people were killed in a three-car crash Sunday was poorly designed and maintained, a Westhampton Beach couple injured in the crash said in legal papers filed Thursday.

Marvin Tenzer, 73, and his wife, Sandra Tenzer, 69, said in the papers that the state failed to provide adequate guardrails along the median and did not give sufficient warning about metal construction plates in the roadway between Exits 68 and 69.

An attorney for the couple, Robert Sullivan of Garden City, has filed a notice of claim, which is required before suing a government entity for damages. The defendant in the case is the State of New York, which is responsible for maintenance of the Long Island Expressway.

The state attorney general’s office, representing the state, could not immediately confirm it had received the paperwork.

The notice said there was a “bump” sign posted in the area as drivers approached metal construction plates on the eastbound travel lanes.

“But absent any additional warning, said signage was clearly an inadequate warning to drivers of the dangers facing them by the ‘bump’ in the roadway,” the notice said.

Tenzer was driving a BMW, with his wife among his passengers, westbound about 9:35 a.m. Sunday when an eastbound Subaru Outback went airborne and careened across the grassy median and hit the BMW and a Honda.

Two passengers in the BMW were killed, as was the driver of the Subaru, Carmelo Pinales, 26, of Hicksville, and two passengers — his sister, Patricia Pinales, 27, of Westbury, and his son, Cristopher Pinales Figuereo, 10.

The driver of the Honda, Scott Martella, 29, of Northport, communications director for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, was also killed.

Police said after the crash that the Subaru had been speeding, but Sullivan said the construction plates and the lack of a proper warning sign “were clearly the cause of the crash.”

Marvin Tenzer suffered a fractured vertebra and other injuries; Sandra Tenzer suffered a fractured femur and fibula and other injuries, Sullivan said.

Sullivan said both remained in the hospital, and were recovering. He said he was seeking $10 million in damages for each of them.

That section of the LIE is part of a $10.9 million construction project. It should have been finished by July 20, but was delayed, with an overall completion date now expected to be Dec. 31.

Delays were caused by bridge joints not matching the design work for the project, said Eileen Peters, a state DOT spokeswoman.

The notice of claim said the state was also negligent for not anticipating that “guardrails and other appropriate barriers” should have been installed to prevent vehicles from entering the grassy median.

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