Woman killed, man pulled from car in fiery Wading River crash

03/19/2011 11:53 PM |

A woman was killed and a man was pulled from a car by Good Samaritans moments before it exploded into flames following a Route 25A crash in Wading River Saturday afternoon.

Michael Gatto, 27, of Rocky Point was traveling east in a 1997 Volkswagen on Route 25A near the Inn and Spa at East Wind, police said, when he crossed over into the westbound lane.

He then hit a 2003 Honda SUV driven by Susan Knoernschild of Mount Sinai, causing her car to turn over on its side, according to police. Ms. Knoernschild was pulled from her car, which had come to a rest in a wooded area, by passing off-duty Riverhead Town Police officer William Bianco. But she died at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, officials said.

Passing motorists Christine Willman of  Wading River and Greg and Patricia Toback of Stony Brook pulled Mr. Gatto from his car before the Volkswagen burst into flames.

Ms. Willman, a teacher in Smithtown, said she was leaving a hair appointment at the East Wind salon when she noticed the wreck and the car ablaze. She said she helped Mr. and Ms. Toback move Mr. Gatto away from the burning car.

“I got out and yelled, ‘Does anyone need help?’ ” she said. “There had to be 15, 20 cars just sitting there, watching.”

She said Mr. Gatto was slipping in and out of consciousness during the ordeal.

“He was in pain,” Ms. Willman said. “I took him, kept him calm.”

Mr. Gatto was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he underwent surgery Saturday and was in stable condition, police said.
Riverhead Police detective Michael Schmidt said he did not know why Mr. Gatto’s car, which came to a rest in the westbound lane, caught fire. Volunteers with the Wading River Fire Department put out the blaze.

Det. Schmidt said Ms. Knoernschild was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

“That’s pretty much what killed her,” he said.

Police are asking anyone with any information on the crash to call detectives at 727-4500, ext. 289.

vchinese@timesreview.com

Comments

comments

14 Comment

  • det. michael schmidt opined on why susan knoernschild was killed? unusual. but what I wonder is – why was the other victim airlifted to stonybrook while she was driven to PBMC? quite a bit further away and longer by road…odd. i have no idea if she could have been saved with more prompt medical attention, but it seems unfortunate that she was not also airlifted to the nearest medical facility.

  • Just maybe.. Det Schmidt noticed: 1) She wasnt wearing a seat belt. 2) noticed her ribs were smashed into the streering wheel crushing her ribs, puncturing her lungs. 3) Maybe the detective also noticed her bones (ribs) were also protruding through her skin. 4) maybe the detective noticed that her face was so smashed that her bottom jaw was missing? 5)May it was noticed by the paramedics in scene that the woman was already dead! Especially after seeing all her guts and blood splattered all over the the accident scene? Did you ever think of that?

    Please give me a break. And stop reading the news like it”s the spoken word of God. Newspapers are in the business to sell stories… and that’s it.. Where they don’t have the answers they make stuff up.

    In either case I’m sure the cop has more experience telling if someone is already dead than you do!

  • thank you to the people that pulled one of my best friends from the car, i am sorry for the loss of life for the womans family.

  • How awful and sad. Ordinary day; a life cut short. Gather ye rosebuds…while ye may…

    Blame and negativity is not gonna change a thing. A little aside: the reporter did a great job reporting this tragedy in 20 minutes…don’t you think?

  • what kind of heartless ass do you have to be to get into those details. It would be just as easy to say it was apparent that the person was dead and send your regards. Its is hard enough reading about the family of someone i know without having to be subject your stuipity.

  • What do you mean? There isn’t a never ending supply of teachers and police, with their automatic raises and guaranteed pensions, to eat at these places? Oh I forgot, the retired ones move to Asheville NC, because it’s “the taxes are too high” here.

  • The vegetables mentioned above are NOT in season on Long Island so of course they are going to be more expensive…duh! Don’t act like you are doing your patrons a favor by cutting your employees hours and trying not to raise prices. Guess what, even “restaurants” have to shop around for the best prices and quality of products. By and offer what is in season at the local farms and pick it up yourself or pay for the convenience of having a “supplier”, it’s that simple. “He’s been paying $60 a case for romaine lettuce that once cost a third of that.” Almost everything “ONCE” cost one third of it’s current price if you think about it.

  • The vegetables mentioned above are NOT in season on Long Island so of course they are going to be more expensive…duh! Don’t act like you are doing your patrons a favor by cutting your employees hours and trying not to raise prices. Guess what, even “restaurants” have to shop around for the best prices and quality of products. By and offer what is in season at the local farms and pick it up yourself or pay for the convenience of having a “supplier”, it’s that simple. “He’s been paying $60 a case for romaine lettuce that once cost a third of that.” Almost everything “ONCE” cost one third of it’s current price if you think about it.

  • I still wish I could view Katharine Schroeders pictures Bill Coulter

  • I still wish I could view Katharine Schroeders pictures Bill Coulter