Street safety concerns after van plunges into Lake Whitney

HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A day after a van ended up in Lake Whitney, people who live across the street surprised us by saying they were not surprised.

“Every year we have about ten cars in the lake,” Peter Wainwright said.

“That was the fourth car that I’ve seen gone in since Thanksgiving,” said Jeffers Lennox.

No official numbers from Hamden Town Hall today, but News 8 has covered this same problem before, like in November of 2016 and April of 2015.

Residents point out efforts have been made to improve safety on Waite Street — like putting in speed bumps and signs — a new guardrail, which is on the other side of the street from yesterday’s incident , and new fencing.

News8 asked Hamden’s Fire Chief about that new fencing:

“Basically it’s up to protect the water supply there,” said Chief David Beradesca. “It’s not really to prevent cars.”

Hamden mayor Curt Balzano Leng sent this written statement to News8: “The Regional Water Authority and the town agreed to work together to improve safety safety along the Waite and Mather Street area by installing guard rails in important safety locations….This is a safety matter that has been in place unfortunately for decades and the town and the RWA agreed to share costs…..The town and the RWA still have plans to eventually have continuous guard rails along both streets, hopefully with a continuous sidewalk for pedestrians to enjoy the area, but this major construction would happen in conjunction with bridge replacement that will be occurring at the locations in the coming years.”

We asked residents what more they’d like to see done to improve safety.

“I think they need to put guardrails all the way around instead of the fence they have up,” Lennox said.

But that same resident says at some point, responsibility has to come from behind the wheel.

“I drive this street twice a day — everyday — and there’s obviously people not paying attention — speeding — on their phones, whatever it is,” Lennox said. “But it’s hard to drive into a lake.”

The woman who drove into the lake yesterday has been identified as Lisa Morrison. Two Hamden firefighters and a police officer rescued her from her sinking van and took her to Yale New Haven Hospital. They say she was conscious.

Hospital spokesmen say she is no longer listed as a patient there.

At the filing of this report, investigators have not said what caused her van to go off the road and end up in the lake.

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