Cops: Accident at Barnacle Due to Improper Left Turn First Since 2017

Feb 20, 2019
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

A car crash at the intersection of Route 72 and Barnacle Drive in Manahawkin on Tuesday morning, Feb. 12, badly damaged two vehicles and sent at least one woman to the hospital, according to emergency officials. At what has long been known as Stafford Township’s most dangerous intersection, a cement island and new signage were installed last year to make Barnacle a right-in, right-out-only roadway.

But apparently not everyone got the memo. Sandra Pinto, 19, of Barnegat was heading east on 72 in her 2007 Hyundai and attempted to turn left onto Barnacle Drive when she collided with a 2018 Kia heading west on 72, driven by Michelle Chmara, 50, of Toms River. Both vehicles were towed. According to Stafford Police only Pinto reported a minor injury, but Stafford EMS say they transported two patients to the Southern Ocean Medical Center.

Pinto was alleged to be at fault and received summonses for careless driving and failure to obey signs.

“Since the intersection’s traffic pattern was updated, we have seen a drastic reduction in accidents at this location,” according to Stafford Police Lt. James Vaughn. Tuesday’s accident was the first in that location involving an improper left turn since 2017, he said, and only one other accident there reported a minor injury. All of the others have been minor, with no injuries reported and involving some driver error other than an improper left-hand turn.

The accidents there tend to appear to be more severe, he explained, given Barnacle intersects with Route 72 and the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour – “and we certainly have had some severe accidents at this intersection in the past.”

“Fortunately, the updated traffic pattern has helped reduce the volume and severity of accidents. Furthermore, we strongly encourage all drivers to obey the traffic signs and follow the updated traffic pattern.”  —V.F.

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