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DOT changes begin after Wheatland crash

Wheatland, N.Y.-- From her front window facing North Road, Gayle Smith has witnessed numerous crashes at the intersection just up the road. There is one she cannot get out of her mind.

"The horrific noise, it shook the whole house," she recalled. "The more I looked I thought oh, there's a tire but where's the rest of it? It was terrible, terrible," she said.

The July crash involved an 18 wheeler and a Jeep filled with young people. Police said that it appeared the driver of the Jeep pulled out in front of the truck thinking it was a four way stop.

Emily Peterson, her brother Chris and Taylor Binnert were killed. Two others were hurt. Police say the driver of the truck was not at fault.

Complaints to the Department of Transportation about this intersection date back to 1987. The Mumford Fire Department has responded to 34 calls there in the last six years alone.

Raised earth and corn stalks on one side of Route 36 block visibility to the North, and tall trees and a fence flank the other side creating blind spots. In 2011 the DOT cut back the brush to increase visibility but lawmakers and residents say it isn't enough.

"This is a problem intersection," said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks two weeks after the crash. She and others have asked the state to expedite changes there.

On Wednesday morning work crews took down trees along Route 36. There is also a plan to make the intersection a four-way stop. For drivers who may be unaware of the new need to stop, this intersection will also be clearly marked with stop signs on each side of each road converging there.

"I'm glad they're finally doing something," said Gayle Smith. "Hopefully this is going to wake people up, slow them down."

Jane Flasch, 13WHAM-TV
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