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In memory of a fallen ‘angel,’ riverfront drive dedicated to EMT Heidi Behr

2013 0702 behr riverfront drive

It’s one sign no parent ever wants to see.

June and John Behr watched as the blue and white sign memorializing the Peconic Riverfront drive as “Heidi Behr Way” was set in place this morning by Riverhead Town highway department workers.

The two-lane roadway spanning the south shore of the river from Peconic Avenue to McDermott Avenue in downtown Riverhead has been named for their daughter, a
Riverhead volunteer EMT killed in the line of duty in May 2005. The town board approved the designation of the previously unnamed drive in May, eight years after a tragic ambulance crashed claimed the life of Behr, 23, and paid responder Bill Stone, 30, of Ridge.

2013 behr sign“This was a long time coming,” June Behr said, as she watched two highway department workers erect the sign. “Something should have been done years ago,” she said, wondering aloud why the Riverhead Town Board “didn’t think it was important.” She credited former town supervisor Jim Stark, who was also on hand to watch the sign go up, with getting the town to honor her daughter’s memory. “He’s a good friend we never knew we had,” Behr said.

Heidi Behr and Bill Stone were killed when the ambulance they were riding in crashed on Main Road in Aquebogue in May 2005, as it rushed a cardiac patient to the hospital. Heidi left behind a severely disabled son, Jared, whom June and John Behr have since adopted.

Stark is a founder of a group called “Heidi’s Helping Angels” which awards scholarships in Heidi’s memory to graduating high school seniors who demonstrate a commitment to community service.

Downplaying his role, Stark said the “angels” group came up with the idea of naming the roadway in memory of Heidi.

“We approached the town board and they went for it,” Stark said. Another sign is to be erected at McDermott Avenue, he said.

June Behr recalled taking walks along the riverfront with Heidi and the family dogs.

“We always used to do that,” she said. “This is an appropriate place.”

The town board has also discussed naming the RVAC Osborn Avenue headquarters for Behr and Stone, but has not yet taken official action to do so.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.