Drive for work-zone safety invokes slain Island paver

 

    By Maura Yates
    April 20, 2010, 7:15AM

    STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The phone rang in Anna Antico's Willowbrook home shortly after 2 a.m. on a fall night in 2005.

    The voice said her husband, Nicky, 35, a city Department of Transportation road worker, had been mowed down by a speeding SUV while he worked to pave Slosson Avenue in Castleton Corners.

    Antico lingered in a coma for five days, before succumbing to massive head injuries.

    "Today, it still plays back in my head like a ... nightmare," Mrs. Antico said of that call, during a ceremony yesterday in Manhattan's Battery Park to inaugurate National Work Zone Awareness Week.

    "None of us realized this was an occupation where Nicky could be in danger or even lose his life," Mrs. Antico said.

    Some 700 people die each year in work-zone accidents nationwide, noted city DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

    Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and Acting State DOT Commissioner Stanley Gee said the beginning of the spring construction season should signal a new commitment to avoid distractions on the road, respect work crews and drive more diligently to keep them safe.

    Backs turned toward traffic, and with the noise of the paving equipment muffling all other sounds, "We didn't see it coming," said Mike Moschella of Dongan Hills, who was working a jackhammer with Antico the night of the accident. They were moving from one work area to another when both were struck. "It felt like a freight train coming toward us," Moschella said.

    The driver, Vincent Ventafredda, of Huguenot, is serving a prison sentence of two and one-third to seven years.

    The Anticos expressed hope that legislation sponsored by state Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) and Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island), to create laws for vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter in the first and second degrees in work zones across the state, would gain passage in Albany...

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