Tuesday morning's fatal pedestrian accident on Niagara Falls Blvd. has become an all too common occurrence.  61-year John Strasser of Amherst was killed while attempting to cross the Blvd. around 5:30 am in a stretch of road that has seen a number of fatal pedestrian accidents over the past few years.  

Nearly all of the fatalities have happened between 4 am and 6 am in a very dark stretch of road and in most cases it was the pedestrian who was attempting to cross where there was no crosswalk or was crossing against the light.

Brighter lighting in the area certainly would help, but who would pay for it?  How many more people have to be killed before the Towns of Tonawanda and Amherst decide street lights are worth the cost?

For me, the location of the tragedy brought to mind another tragedy.  It happened at Niagara Falls Blvd. and Roger Chaffee Drive.  I heard a number of reporters mispronounce Chaffee.  One reporter called it Robert Chaffee Drive.  Obviously they have no idea who Roger Chaffee was.

Roger Chaffee was one of three NASA astronauts who were killed in a launchpad fire in 1967 while the American space program was in a race with the Soviet Union to put a man on the moon.  The fire put the moon mission on hold for nearly a year while design flaws were corrected.

The two other astronauts killed in that fire were Edward White and Virgil Gus Grissom.  In the late 1960's the Town of Amherst honored those astronauts by naming three streets after them.  One block south of Roger Chaffee Drive is Edward White Drive.

A street named in honor of Grissom was supposed to run one block north of Roger Chaffee Drive, but it was never built.  A street sign was posted there for many years but when Classics V Restaurant opened up Classics V Banquet Hall, Virgil Gus Grissom Drive became Classics V Drive.

Google Earth Maps
Google Earth Maps

It's sad that Amherst thought highly enough of three heroic American astronauts to name three streets after them, but never built one of them.  So does that mean we just forget it?  Whatever happened to Virgil Grissom Drive?  Does anybody care?


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