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27 December 2017

UPDATE: Matthew Hillebrand Killed In Car Accident After Hitting Steel Utility Pole on County Road 51 By Eastport and Riverhead


Fatal Car Crash Reported: Matthew Hillebrand Killed In Car Accident After Hitting Steel Utility Pole on County Road 51 By Eastport and Riverhead

Matthew Hillebrand Died In Fatal Car Collision On County Road 51 By Eastport and Riverhead After Accident With Steel PSEG Utility Pole

EASTPORT, NEW YORK (December 26, 2017) – A 47-year-old man was tragically killed in a car accident after he hit a large metal utility pole on County Road 51 by  Riverhead and Eastport.

Riverhead authorities have been able to identify the man that died in the fatal car accident with the steel utility pole as Matthew Hillebrand.

For reasons that remain under investigation, the vehicle that Matthew Hillebrand was driving left the roadway and struck the metal utility pole before bursting into flames and catching fire.

Eastport police are saying that Matthew Hillebrand had to be airlifted to the Stony Brook University Hospital where he later died due to his injuries.

A number of residents have said that the new PSEG utility poles being erected are too close to the road and are a hazard for drivers.

The majority of PSEG utility poles in the area are made of wood and tend to break if they are hit by a car.

An official for the city estimated that there are at least 1000 similar accidents every year. Around six of those 1000 crashes involve serious injuries.


Cities have a responsibility to maintain reasonably safe roadways that prevent drivers from being injured from foreseeable sources of harm. On certain occasions, a municipality may have a duty to construct what’s known as a “clear recovery zone” outside of the paved portion of the roadway. A clear recovery zone is an area that lacks fixed objects thereby giving errant vehicles the opportunity to recover safely if they veer off the road. In New York the clear recovery zone should be 30-feet long from the edge of the pavement.

If there is a fixed immovable object within 30-feet of the roadway, a guardrail or roadside barrier should typically be placed in front of it in order to protect drivers. Courts in New York have generally held that clear recovery zones should be created when (1) there is significant repair or reconstruction on the roadway, or (2) when there is a pointed history of accidents on a stretch of road. When there is a history of car accidents on a stretch of roadway, that puts the city on notice that there may be a dangerous condition that needs to be corrected. When a city fails to correct a dangerous condition after they have been put on notice, they may be liable for that accident. A person filing a claim against the state of New York would typically need to show that their accident was similar in nature to the history of prior accidents.

Our staff at Lipsig Lawyers were deeply saddened to learn about the tragic car accident that killed Matthew Hillebrand. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family as they continue to grieve such an incredible loss. There needs to be immediate action taken by the cities responsible for this road to correct this dangerous condition! It is completely and utterly unacceptable for the city not to take action even after there are nearly 1000 similar accidents every year.

If you or someone that you love has been injured or killed in a car accident with a fixed object by the road, you may have legal recourse. Our team of highly experienced road design defect attorneys are here to help in any way that we can. Whether you just have questions about your rights or are looking to hire an attorney, you’re always welcome to reach out to us if you need help (646) 846-4496.