Lessons from Hurricane Irma: 1. Roundabouts

West Boca News has often advocated for roundabouts. Hurricane Irma showed us another advantage. When the power went out so did traffic lights, and our intersections became chaotic nightmares. Roundabouts are unaffected by power outages.
In general they’re safer and more efficient than regular intersections. Carmel Indiana converted over 100 intersections to roundabouts and saw “a 40% decrease in accidents, with an 80% decrease in injury-causing crashes and90% reduction in fatalities.” By comparison its non-roundabout neighbor Indianapolis saw: “a 30 percent increase in accidents with injury and a 16 percent increase in accidents resulting in a fatality ….”
I was discussing this with a friend who lives south of Glades off Lyons. FDOT is in the middle of a $1.8 million dollar project on Lyons. The main problem was the high volume of serious accidents at or near the intersection on Lyons with Escondido Way, the entrances to Escondido and Timbers of Boca. The so-called solution: straighten the curves and bank the roadway. Not only does this fail to address the intersection itself, but it will allow traffic on Lyons to go faster, making the intersection even more dangerous.
FDOT was more concerned with cars going off the road due to excessive speed on the curves, but their crash analysis did not break down severity by type of accident. Anyone who drives there knows that making a left turn onto Lyons there from either side is uncomfortable at best.
It is well known that roundabouts make intersections safer, but FDOT and our local politicians ignore that. Instead FDOT is increasing the speed of traffic entering an intersection known to be dangerous.
Below are a series of images showing what the intersection of Lyons and Escondido would look like with a Carmel roundabout superimposed on it. The images and map data are from Google Maps.

Many of our readers dismiss roundabouts with quick responses. Let’s be clear – Carmel Indiana saw a 90% reduction in traffic fatalities by converting many intersections to roundabouts. You can only oppose roundabouts if you want more people to die. Roundabouts save lives.

Jim Thompson (53) Killed in Car Wreck on SW 3rd at Lyons

Friends and family are mourning the loss of James Patrick Thompson. Mr. Thompson passed away in a car accident Saturday night at the intersection of SW 3rd and Lyons Road.
The crash report, prepared by Investigator Loudermilk of PBSO, indicated that Thompson was headed eastbound on Southwest 3rd street, approaching Lyons Road in the right turn lane approaching the intersection with Lyons.
A witness indicated “a high rate of speed and at least one flat tire, possibly two.” Thompson lost control of the vehicle, traveled through the intersection, and “violently collided with a traffic signal pole, and palm tree on the northeast corner of Lyons Road.”
Two readers sent us photos of the scene.

Reader photo of accident scene
Reader photo of accident scene

Next of kin were notified and we noticed many friends and family mourning their loss.
West Boca News sends our best wishes in this difficult time to all of them.

Dastjerdi Arrested Again for Aggravated Stalking

Update: Mr. Dastjerdi appeared in court on Wednesday. Prosecutors moved for pre-trial detention and the court granted that motion, meaning he will be held without bond. The case has been assigned to Judge Charles Burton.
The Sun-Sentinel reports that Dastjerdi targeted his former business partner, threatening to rape the man’s wife and blow up their house. Court records indicate the offense (or one of them) occurred in late November, with the case filed and warrant issued on December 9th.

According to website BocaBusted.com, former West Boca resident Ahmad Dastjerdi was arrested Tuesday on three counts of “Aggravated Stalking – Follow, Harass, Cyberstalk, Credible Threat to Person.”
We reported on Dastjerdi’s previous arrest for similar charges back in 2013.
Mugshot from 2013
Dastjerdi mugshot from 2013

Dastjerdi was convicted in early September and sentenced to 60 days in jail for harassing phone calls to his former neighbor in the Escondido community. In that trial the jury rejected the felony aggravated stalking charges.
Escondido is on the east side of Lyons south of Glades. Dastjerdi now lives in East Boca. He is a certified electrical contractor and owns a business called Remote Electric, Inc.
The Sheriff’s booking blotter shows, at this writing, that Dastjerdi remains in custody without bond.
In researching this story we noticed that someone purporting to be Ahmad Dastjerdi posted comments on a story we wrote in January of 2013 about a local tire store. These point to an Ahmad Dastjerdi Facebook page that contains comments similar to those he was accused of in the trial. We cannot verify if this is actually Dastjerdi.

Motorcyclist Killed Friday on Lyons Road

A collision Friday between a 2015 Cadillac and a 2012 Yamaha motorcycle claimed the life of Ara Kamciyan (age 27). Both drivers were residents of Timbers of Boca on the west side of Lyons Road south of Glades. The accident occurred at the entrance to the development.

Lyons Road at Escondido; image and map data by Google.
Lyons Road at Escondido; image and map data by Google.

According to police report Dolores McCabe (age 72) made a left turn into the neighborhood. Kamciyan was coming the other direction (southbound). As a result of the collision his head hit her windshield, and he was not wearing a helmet.
In the police description V-1 is McCabe’s car and V-2 is Kamciyan’s motorcycle:

V-1 was northbound on Lyons Road in the left turn lane. V-2 was southbound on Lyons Road in the outside through lane. V-1 turned into the path of V-2, resulting in the front of V-2 impacting with the passenger’s side of V-1 near the front. D-2 was ejected from his vehicle and him head impacted with the front windshield before he fell to the ground. D-2 was not wearing a helmet. He was transported to Delray Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Kamciyan co-owned a pool and spa business in Fort Lauderdale.
West Boca News reported the accident shortly after it happened on our Facebook page, thanks to a volunteer.
Ordinarily in a collision like this fault would be placed on the driver making the left turn. It is unfortunately common that drivers do not notice motorcycles. At the same time there may be other reasons the accident happened. The police report does not indicate fault.
On the legal side, Florida law is quirky when it comes to wrongful death cases. It may be difficult for the family to recover.

79-Year-Old in Critical Condition After Lyons Road Accident

We have learned some details about a serious accident that happened Saturday afternoon on Lyons Road near SW 14th Street. This is the intersection where Lyons meets the entrances to Crescent Lakes (on the east side) and Patios of Boca (west).

View northbound on Lyons looking at intersection with SW 14th.
View northbound on Lyons looking at intersection with SW 14th.

One of the drivers, 79-year-old Philip Eckstein of Crescent Lakes was critically injured when his car collided with another car driven by Jordan Trouf (29).
The Sheriff’s report appears to place blame on Mr. Trouf, though the facts indicate Trouf had right of way. In the image at top of this article Trouf placed the blame on Eckstein in a post on his Facebook page.
Trouf was also injured as was Eckstein’s wife and passenger, Joan (75). All three were taken to Delray Medical Center.
According to the Sheriff’s report:

V1 [Eckstein] was traveling southbound on Lyons Road and began turning left onto SW 14th Street. V2 [Trouf] was traveling northbound on Lyons Road and was approaching SW 14th Street and V1. As the driver of V1 turned, he was unaware of the impending danger from V2, which was being driven faster than the 40 mph speed limit. During the crash, the front of V2 impacted into the right front of V1. Both vehicles were redirected onto the northeast shoulder of the intersection. The three parties were all transported to Delray Medical Center for medical treatment. The driver of V1 remains in critical condition.
Alcohol and narcotic impairment is considered a factor in the actions of the driver of V2 and toxicology is pending.

It is unclear from the report how the investigating deputy could know Trouf’s speed. The allegation of impairment is often made but difficult for the prosecution to prove. Also typical in these reports, it is unclear whether any of the occupants were wearing seatbelts.
Update: One of our readers pointed out another Facebook post Trouf made, which looks like it was roughly 12 hours before the accident:
He described himself as too tired to drive home and was considering sleeping in his car.
Earlier that night he noted that others were partying and he’d been working:
That seems to go against the police theory that he was impaired by alcohol or narcotics.
As one of Trouf’s friends suggested in a comment on his post, he would be well advised to get a good lawyer who can handle both the criminal defense and personal injury issues that he will be facing.
The Sheriff’s brief report on the accident is below, with certain details omitted by us:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/eckstein-trouf.pdf”]

New Items at Sweet Dewey's BBQ: Spatchcock?

A loaded sweet potato? What the heck is a Spatchcock chicken? Chef Dwayne Hooper and friends are cooking up some great new dishes at Sweet Dewey’s BBQ on Glades Road.
Sweet Dewey’s has been one of our favorite places to eat since they opened last year. The prices are reasonable and it’s the best barbecue in the area. Recently we were invited to try some of the new dishes.
The highlight for me was the loaded sweet potato (top). I’m not sure where they got the idea to put pork on a sweet potato but it works. The potato is huge and together it’s easily a full meal. We took about half of it home.
The other new item is Spatchcock chicken. We’d never heard of it before but it must be a thing if Martha Stewart does it. The short idea as we understand it is you split the chicken so you can flatten it and that allows it to cook better and get more flavor from the smoker. We had a half chicken, white meat. The meat was excellent. We have a feeling the dark meat might be even better.
Speaking of the smoker, we got a look at it in action with the chef:
That’s pork smoking in there.
The other thing worth noting is the soups. They now have five of them. We had some of the new corn chowder, which was so good we ate it before we could take a picture.
They wanted us to let readers know that they cater events. Sometimes the chef himself comes out and serves.
Sweet Dewey’s BBQ is on the north side of Glades Road just west of Lyons, in the same plaza with two of our other favorites, Bamboo Wok and Stallone’s Italian.

Disclosure: Our meal was on the house. But we eat here regularly on our own dime.

Multi-Car Crash on Palmetto Park: Photos & Video

Earlier today there was a major accident on Palmetto Park Road, between Lyons Road and Boca Rio, just west of the Turnpike bridge. Official reports on the 8000 block or near 8300 West Palmetto Park. Our best estimate of the time was sometime around 6:15 or 6:20 pm. It was definitely before 6:30 but we’re not sure how much earlier.

Several readers sent us photos from the scene and two sent us videos, which we have put together into one video, below:

We enhanced the lighting and color in most of the photos.
We were told this was a four-car crash but as we look at the photos and video we think at least five cars were involved. We count four in the middle of the roadway and one on the side of the road (the first one visible in the video, and also below).
Despite the tremendous damage we see to the vehicles it is our understanding at this moment that none of the occupants were killed.
We did hear from a reliable source that 7 patients were transported to area hospitals.
The accident was identified as a “Mass Casualty Incident Level 1” which is actually the lowest level of such incidents, with 5-10 patients. Level 2 MCIs involve 11-20 patients and it goes up from there.
Of course this incident had a major impact on traffic on Palmetto Park Road and nearby roads as well including Lyons. We hope to update readers in the near future with details about what actually happened.

Efes Bistro in Somerset Shoppes

Update: Coupons for Efes added at bottom.
Efes Bistro is one of our favorite Mediterranean restaurants in South Florida. Due to its location you may not have noticed it – it’s hidden in the interior of Somerset Shoppes, the plaza with the Michael’s craft store, the new Saks Off 5th, and Original Pancake House. They’ve been there for eight years.
Here’s a video showing how to get there from the parking lot on the Lyons side of the plaza.

You can also enter on the Glades side near Original Pancake House and OrangeTheory Fitness.
What we love about Efes is that the quality is outstanding. It has many of the typical Greek options but because it’s Turkish it has other items.

Efes previously had a great review in the Sun-Sentinel in 2011.

I started with the lentil soup.
It’s hearty with great flavor and texture. Next up we had the cold appetizer platter.
There’s a lot on this platter, including dolmas (grape leaves stuffed with rice), hummus, two different eggplant appetizers, two different yogurt-based spreads, and another veggie spread.
There’s also a hot appetizer platter on the menu which comes with falafel, zucchini pancake, kibbe, spinach pie, and more. We didn’t get a shot of the platter but here are two of the items it comes with.

Zucchini pancake
Zucchini pancake

Spinach pie, similar to Spanakopita
Spinach pie, similar to Spanakopita

The entrees are another area where you really see and taste the quality. My favorite item has always been the mixed grill platter, which comes with a variety of meats.
When you have a group or family eating, the appetizer platters and mixed grill platter are a great way to sample a lot of the options on the menu.
There are simpler entrees including chicken, lamb and beef shish kabob:
These dishes come with either rice, bulghur (pictured) or steak fries.
In talking with the owner she said we had to try the meat pie, and she let us video her making it:

It was delicious, but might be a little spicy for some.
For some regular customers the highlight is the fish.
All in all it’s great food with a wide array of choices, healthy and tasty. In addition to dine-in they do take out, delivery, catering as well as parties in the restaurant.

Efes Coupons

$1.8M FDOT Project Coming to Lyons

Lyons Road, southbound; image and map data by Google
Lyons Road, southbound; image and map data by Google

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has recommended spending nearly two million dollars to prevent accidents on the curved section of Lyons Road. A review of crashes over a five year period (2007 to 2011) found a concentration in this area:

The police hard copy crash reports revealed that 48 of these crashes involved vehicles traveling along the curved section of Lyons Road. Of these, 37 happened north of the intersection with Escondido Way; 26 were traveling southbound on Lyons Road and 11 were traveling northbound. Furthermore, 22 crashes involved wet pavement. Nine crashes were recorded in the intersection of Escondido Way and Lyons Road. A majority of the crashes (32 crashes or 58.2%) were run off the road crashes.

We reported on a crash in this area in May on the West Boca News Facebook page.

Map data by Google
Map data by Google

Our readers will be surprised to hear this (sarcasm alert) but apparently drivers go faster than the recommended speed in this area:

The analysis of speed data collected on the study segment on May 21, 2012 showed that almost 100% of the motorists were driving over the advisory speed (30 mph) by an average of 30.17% to 48.73% above the speed. Vehicles in the 85th percentile traveled even faster, averaging between 40% and 66.67% over the advisory speed.

Data points included many over 50 mph and even some over 60 mph, or double the recommended speed.
In an earlier phase of the project “speed feedback signs” (the ones that flash when you’re going too fast) were installed. They didn’t work:

The analysis of the speed data revealed that the installation of the SFSs did not bring down the speeds significantly and that the majority of the motorists still traveled substantially above the advisory speed of 30 mph.

Since the signs didn’t work, FDOT is now recommending major roadwork on the curved section.

Reconstruct the roadway typical section per Palm Beach County Engineering and Public Works recommendations to improve existing super elevation through the curves. The proposed reconstruction project will rebuild the three curved segments of the road with the super elevation appropriate for the 40-mph design speed limit, relax the three horizontal curves, add shoulders on both sides, and add a 6-foot pathway on the west side of the road.

The report does not provide much detail on the changes beyond what’s written above, but the reference to super elevation suggests the curves will be banked, but not as much as this picture:
It’s unclear when this roadwork will begin, but it should take several weeks with dramatic traffic impact.
The full FDOT report is below:
[gview file=”http://westbocanews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Lyons-Rd_Norte-Lago-to-Pine-Springs-Dr-Study_-final2.pdf”]

Crash Update at SW 18th and Lyons

Looking north at intersection of SW 18th and Lyons; image and map data from Google
Looking north at intersection of SW 18th and Lyons; image and map data from Google

The Palm Beach Sheriff released some details from the bicycle-SUV collision at the corner of SW 18th and Lyons. According to their report, the bicycle was traveling in the crosswalk from the northeast corner to the northwest corner (right to left in the picture above) when it was struck by a 2009 Chevy Equinox, indicating an address in the Kings Point community in Delray Beach. That vehicle drove off but was found a short distance away, unoccupied.
The bicyclist, Beth Jamine (44), was initially reported in critical condition. That has apparently been upgraded to serious. It is our understanding that Ms. Jamine suffered from some fractures, a pneumothorax, and may need surgery, but she is likely to recover well.
Beth Jamine
Beth Jamine

Ms. Jamine’s reported address is in the Isle of Boca Dunes on the west side of Lyons Road at SW 8th, not far from the accident scene.
PBSO indicated the driver is unknown. The address they attribute to the vehicle is owned, according to property appraiser records, by Richard and Harriete Birnbaum. That record shows a Brooklyn mailing address for them.
If any readers have leads on the driver please let us know or contact PBSO Investigator Sean Ramsey.