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Community mourns after man killed in crash on Great Neck Road; Some say traffic changes are needed

58-year-old killed on Great Neck Road
Great Neck Crash.PNG
Posted at 4:58 PM, Oct 05, 2021

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A deadly crash on N. Great Neck Road Monday night caused a community to be in mourning.

Police say 58 year-old John Hefti died. Some people who live near the accident think the road is too dangerous.

Tuesday, there were flowers near the intersection of Shorehaven Drive and North Great Neck Road near Cox High School.

The multi-vehicle crash happened Monday evening. Police say a Ford Truck was traveling northbound in the 1600 block of N. Great Neck Road when it veered into oncoming southbound traffic. The victim's vehicle was struck head-on which pushed it into the path of another vehicle traveling southbound, according to police.

Officials said additional vehicles were struck by debris from the crash. The driver of the Ford Truck was pinned in the vehicle and extricated by VBFD, then transported to a local hospital by EMS for treatment of serious injuries.

Law enforcement said this case remains under active investigation.

But, it left friends devastated. “I had served with John previously in the Navy and I was always impressed with his leadership and character and his service to our country,” said Heath Dewitz.

A memorial is set up near where the crash happened as people continue to bring flowers. “It’s another tragedy on Great Neck Road. Cars go way too fast,” said Carrie Triepel.

Carrie Triepel’s daughter Sedonia sustained a traumatic brain injury back in December of 2018 a half a mile up the road at the intersection of River Road and Great Neck.

Triepel and others have fought to change the speed limit and get more traffic lights put up.

News 3 has been following her story as she has worked through her recovery. Her mother said her goal is to walk again and graduate from high school normally.

Triepel has been fighting to lower the speed limit and possibly get more traffic lights put in. She said the cars go too fast and more needs to be done to keep people safe.

“I want to change the mentality of the Great Neck Speedway which is what it is called on our next-door app,” said Triepel. She added change is needed especially since there are several schools in the area.

We reached out to the City of Virginia Beach and they said, “Back in 2019, Traffic Engineering did determine that a traffic signal was not warranted at the Great Neck Road/River Road intersection. Public Works has since constructed offset left turn lanes on Great Neck Road at this intersection to make left turns at that intersection safer. The most recent speed analysis that Traffic Engineering performed on Great Neck Road was in 2019 for the section between Shorehaven Dr & Thomas Bishop Rd (north of Shorehaven Dr).  This speed analysis using USLimits2, (an FHWA sanctioned analysis tool) supported a 45 mph speed limit and also indicated that the crash rate and the injury rate for the roadway segment was significantly lower than would be expected to a road with similar characteristics."

“We’re taking the next step in trying to make it safer and I have filed a lawsuit against the city of Virginia Beach so they can fix it and make it safer for all,” said Triepel.

The city said they have not been served a lawsuit.

Some people that live in the surrounding area of the crash want change.

“Great Neck Road still remains a dangerous road and I think more work needs to be done,” said Dewitz.

“I don’t want to see any more deaths. I don’t want to see any more turned over cars, trucks. I don’t want to see any more Sedonias. I just want it safer for everybody,” said Triepel.

Related: Virginia Beach mother fights for safety improvements at intersection where daughter almost died