Dance-A-Thon For Erin Suszynski Pushes for Legislation

8:39 PM, Oct 20, 2013   |    comments
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CLARENCE - Erin Suszynski's family isn't asking for taxpayers to fund a multi-billion dollar project.

They're just asking for some crosswalks.

"It's a relatively easy fix," said Mary Suszynski, Erin's mother. "So why not do it?"

WEB EXTRA: Visit the Erin's Crossing website

While crossing Maple Road in Amherst from Maple East Elementary School's playground, 13-year-old Erin died in June 2012 when a car struck and killed her. She's now the source of legislation in Albany - aptly named "Erin's Law" - which would require crosswalks "across each road that abuts an athletic field or playground." Republican Michael Ranzenhofer sponsored the bill in the Senate, while Democrat Dennis Gabryszak sponsored the Assembly version, but Erin's family hopes they'll finally see real results when the session begins in January.

That's partly why they held another benefit for Erin on Sunday at the Samuel's Grand Manor in Clarence. Fittingly, it was a Dance-A-Thon, since that was Erin's passion before she died. The event's financial goal was to raise money for crosswalks, but more importantly, it gave the Suszynski's another public forum to convince the world that legislative action is necessary.

"When you lose somebody like this, there's no going back," said Jerry Suszynski, Erin's father. "You need stuff like this in place. So do the right thing and make our law. Make Erin's law, and whatever's taking this so long, let's stop it."

Ranzenhofer said the push for Erin's Law is "making progress," but now it's just a matter of getting his fellow legislators on board from both parties.

"What we're hoping to do here is educate other senators and other assembly members," Ranzenhofer said, "as to the importance of this law."

There's also the more immediate matter of establishing a crosswalk at the spot on Maple Road where Erin died. The Suszynski family is still waiting on the results of a traffic study -- as well as government approval - and the town supervisor told 2 On Your Side last week that he's in full support of a crosswalk.

In addition to crosswalks, the Suszynskis also want to be sure that drivers recognize the dangers of "waving on" pedestrians through traffic. A car hit and killed Erin - and injured her friend - after another driver had given them the go-ahead to walk across the road.

"These kids are going to be learning how to drive soon, too, so we want them to be aware," Mary Suszynski said. "Don't wave people on."

Maybe the addition of crosswalks near playgrounds and fields in New York state will help solve that problem. There are never any guarantees in Albany, but that only further motivates Erin's family.

"The thing I hear the most is, 'why is this so hard to do?' This should be a no-brainer. And I hear that from everyone," Mary Suszynski said. "Why is this so hard? It shouldn't be. So we're gonna make a difference."


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