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State Lawmakers Pushing Bill for Cameras in Work Zones

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Kelly Arcara talks about her late son Jake outside Yorktown Highway Garage.

Jake Arcara was only 28 years old when he was killed nearly two years ago by an elderly driver while working on a drainage project for the Yorktown Highway Department.

Arcara, revered for his pleasant demeanor, was working as a flagger near the intersection of Gomer Street and Quinlan Street at about 11 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2022. A car, driven by Irving Breitbart, 88, a member of the town’s Senior Advisory Committee and Veterans Advisory Committee and former owner of Eagle Awards and Trophy Company in Cortlandt, sideswiped a highway foreman and hit Arcara from behind.

He died from his injuries at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital. Breitbart suffered broken ribs and other injuries in the accident and died in the hospital four days later.

“It was such a devastating loss to the Highway Department,” Yorktown Highway Superintendent Dave Paganelli said. “Anyone who knew Jake and his moral compass. He always had a smile on his face, never complained.”

Since Arcara’s death, his mother, Kelly Arcara, has been pushing for legislation that would require drivers at a certain age to undergo a cognitive and physical exam to be able to keep driving.

“It never should have happened,” Kelly Arcara said Saturday afternoon outside the town’s highway garage. “Mother’s Day is tomorrow. I won’t be able to celebrate with my son. My heart hurts every day. He was the love of my life. He touched so many lives.”

While placing restrictions on elderly drivers has met some opposition, Assemblyman Matt Slater (R-Yorktown) and state Sen. Peter Harckham (D-Lewisboro) have joined forces to propose a bill called Jake’s Law that would give Yorktown the authority to deploy safety cameras in roadway work zones and impose monetary liability on speeding motorists. Assemblywoman Dana Levenberg (D/Ossining) is a co-sponsor of the bill.

If approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Yorktown would be the first municipality in the state to enact the law, which was inspired by the Automated Work Zone Speed Monitoring Pilot Program launched in April 2023 by the state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority.

“We’re taking a terrible tragedy and trying to do something positive with it,” said Slater, who was Yorktown’s supervisor when Arcara was killed. “Work zone safety is very important. The statistics are staggering.”

According to Slater, last year in New York State there were 400 work zone infractions, 144 injuries and three fatalities. Harckham said that nationally 37,000 workers were injured in roadway zones in 2022.

“In Jake’s memory, we want to make sure this never happens again,” Harckham said. “When motorists know cameras are watching them, people will drive better, and the statistics show that.”

Since the fatal accident, the Yorktown Highway Department closes roadways to traffic when work is being done.

On May 15, 2023, the town dedicated Front Street, where the Highway Department is located, as the Jake Arcara Memorial Highway.

“He was such a shining light in our town,” said Yorktown Supervisor Ed Lachterman. “Tragedy can either destroy a person or do something better. This is a safety issue.”

With the legislative session in Albany scheduled to end June 6, Slater and Harckham are hopeful Jake’s Law can become a reality.

“We’re going to fight like hell,” Harckham remarked.





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