NEWS Fleetwood Lyon Road Petition

Fleetwood Lyon Road Petition

On Oct. 21, Paul J. Cook Jr. was driving home from get off work at the East Penn Manufacturing Co. in Richmond Township when his The car lost control and collided with another vehicle a few miles away from the factory.

The 25-year-old Exeter man, father of a 7-year-old son, had worked for more than three months at the battery factory, the largest employer in Berks County. His father, Paul Sr., worked there and helped him find the job.

His sister Isabella said life was returning to normal for young Cook, and working at Deka Battery, the factory by the name most locals use for it, was a big step toward stability.

On Oct. 22, Paul J. Cook Jr. of Exeter, who had been working for the East Penn Manufacturing Co. for several months, was involved in a car accident a few miles from the battery factory. (courtesy of Cook Family)

Cook lost control of his car after atop a hill on westbound Fleetwood Lyons Road at around 2.30pm. His car swerved into the oncoming lane and was struck on the passenger side, according to Fleetwood police on patrol in the town of Richmond.

The other driver, who has not been named, was taken to Reading Hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Cook sustained multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

After Cook’s sudden death, Cook’s family has struggled to find answers about how the crash happened and whether anything could be done to prevent it.

“What’s confusing is that we know that PJ took every possible safety precaution,” Isabella said of her brother. “He’s a guy who insists on driving without texting. From what we can imagine, he wasn’t on his phone when that happened. It makes us very confused as to why this freak accident happened.”

Isabella said one possibility is that traffic may have been backing up as one or more motorists waited for eastbound traffic to break before turning left onto Dryville Road. Considering that it was the time of the East Penn shift change, there was heavy traffic on the day, but Paul may not have noticed this in time and swerved to avoid getting into the line.

At the roadside memorial they erected for Paul J. Cook Jr., from left: Exeter town girlfriend Nicole Braunsberg; his father, Paul J. Cook Sr.; and his Sister Isabella Cooke.  (courtesy of Isabella Cook)
At the roadside memorial they erected for Paul J. Cook Jr., from left: Exeter town girlfriend Nicole Braunsberg; his father, Paul J. Cook Sr.; and his Sister Isabella Cooke. (courtesy of Isabella Cook)

Isabella’s grief over her brother’s death drives her to action.

She has started an online petition calling for safety measures on Fleetwood Lyon Road, close to where the accident took place, and police have told the family that multiple brake marks on the road before Paul’s crash were evidence.

“When approaching this intersection traveling west on Fleetwood Lyons Road, you’ll roll over a hill that drivers won’t be able to see in sufficient time if there is traffic,” her petition says. Gives drivers little time to rest. Drivers are traveling at speeds of 55 mph or more when faced with these potential hazards. In addition to this, there is a shift traffic change starting from East Penn Manufacturing between 1:45pm and 3:30pm Combined with the dangerous speeds shown at this point in the road, it creates a great danger for the driver.”

The petition goes on to say that before another life is claimed, there needs to be “slow down” signs warning those traveling westbound on Fleetwood Lyons Road to slow down to avoid potential hazards such as traffic jams and stops.

Isabella plans to reach out to PennDOT District 5 engineers and local elected officials to make sure something is done.

Many motorists use Fleetwood Lyons Road as an alternative route to Route 222 in North Berks.

Alan Piper, Berks County transportation planner, said the Fleetwood Lyons Road safety improvement project is not part of the recently approved current four-year and long-term transportation improvement plans.

Both lists were developed in coordination with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regional officials and include items recommended by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and local officials to address safety or traffic flow concerns.

Isabella said she had done a lot of online research, including social media comments from East Penn Manufacturing workers about frequent accidents and safety concerns on Fleetwood Lyons Road, and was convinced something needed to be done.

“If you have thousands of employees leaving at the same time every day, you’re at the same risk at that particular time,” she said.

She believes her brother’s death could have been prevented if steps had been taken to make the roads safer.

“It’s a shame that a young soul was taken away too soon,” said Isabella, 22, who grew up in the town of Exeter and now lives in Pittsburgh. “He was an amazing guy, a very charming guy. Just a magnet. Even if you only knew him for a day, he left a permanent mark on you. His smile was contagious.”

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