Update: Cops ID man killed in Baiting Hollow crash

04/21/2011 2:30 PM |
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Police investigate the scene of a two vehicle crash on Sound Avenue in Calverton Wednesday.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Police investigate the scene of a two vehicle crash on Sound Avenue in Calverton Wednesday.

UPDATE: Brian Costello, 36, of Mount Sinai has been identified by Riverhead Police as the man killed in Wednesday afternoon’s bus and tractor trailer crash on Sound Avenue.

The victim was a Maryhaven Center of Hope care recipient.

Click here for funeral arrangements.

Original story: A passenger on a special needs bus was killed and eight others were injured after the driver of a tractor-trailer lost control navigating a curve on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow and flipped sideways, crushing the side of the bus, police said.

The Mack truck was loaded with gravel and traveling east about 3:10 p.m. when the driver, Robert Converse, 54, of Bellport, lost control and struck the bus, which was traveling west a quarter-mile west of Edwards Avenue, Riverhead Police said.

“They did have a passenger on the bus die,” said Police Chief David Hegermiller, though that victim, a man, was not immediately identified.

The bus was driven by Gary Rosset, 61, of Ridge, for Maryhaven Center of Hope, which runs several facilities on Long Island for the disabled.

Seconds after the crash, the driver of a Jeep Wrangler arrived and pulled Mr. Converse, who was bleeding from his ear and suffered lacerations to his face, witnesses said, out of the truck through a broken window.

The truck driver, who had been wearing a seatbelt, was loaded onto a gurney and taken to an area hospital by ambulance, the witnesses said.

“We saw smoke. The driver of the Jeep was pulling the truck driver out,” said 16-year-old Jaime Rockowitz of Wading River, a passenger in a car that came upon the scene.  The truck driver “was a little out of it. He was staring up in space.”

“He was bleeding from his ear,” added Kyle Fox, 17, of Rocky Point, who was in the same car as Mr. Rockowitz.

Five of the victims, including the one who died, were taken by ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment, with the other four being sent to John T. Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, officials said.

Of the four survivors who were taken to Peconic Bay after the crash, three were released and another was transferred to Stony Brook University Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries, said a hospital spokeswoman.

The four patients taken to Mather hospital were treated and released, officials there said.

Lou Grossman of Maryhaven, based in Port Jefferson, said he couldn’t speak about the dead victim, saying only “our hearts go out to the family.”

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | A passenger on a Maryhaven bus, which can be seen here in the far background, was killed after a crash with a dump truck in Calverton.

The two witnesses to the crash, Mr. Rockowitz and Mr. Fox, said the tractor-trailer had flipped onto its side and that the impact blew out all the windows in the truck’s cab.

They also saw EMT workers run down a hill to attend to bus passengers.

“I saw them run over there with a respirator or something,” said witness Greg Scherer, 22, of Shoreham, who was headed west on Sound Avenue in a white Nissan when he came upon the crash.  “They were doing CPR on someone on the bus.”

Sound Avenue, westward from Edwards Avenue, remained closed through much of the evening as detectives investigated the cause of the crash.

Chief Hegermiller said he expected charges would be filed.

Riverhead firefighters were called to the scene to wash the area of fuel, which was spilling from one of the vehicles.

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With Vera Chinese and Tim Gannon



14 Comment

  • Anyone have any update on the conditions of the staff and clients on the bus??

  • Hey Chief, when THE HELL is there going to be some traffic enforcement on Sound Avenue, huh?!!

    News Review, why don’t you FOIA the tickets that have been issues by ther Riverhead Police on Sound Avenue over the last 10 years. I can guarantee you it’s been less and less as these $100k+ cops relax on Route 58 eating fast food.

  • Does anyone agree that perhaps it’s time to put signs indicating that trucks use low gear when going down the Baiting Hollow hill and lowering the speed limit to 30 mph also —— Petition the town board for these recommendations.

  • who is to say that the truck was speeding? have you ruled out a mechanical failure?

  • My heart goes out to the family of the deceased. I used to work at the Maryhaven residence on Sound Ave and knew the consumers quite well. I am devastated by this tragic news. Will they be releasing his name?

  • I as well worked at the Sound Ave. residence which is less than half a mile east of the scene and probably where the bus just dropped off some clients…this is very sad news. The cars do travel at high rates of speed particularly down that hill at the scene. I hope both drivers will be investigated as this is an extremely unfortunate incident. I feel terrible for the family members and friends of the victims.

  • As far as I know, no one said that the truck was speeding. Mechanical failure can be blamed for most of the accidents that are occurring lately but most of the mechanical failures can be blamed on the loose nut behind the wheel. No one is making any accusations as to why the truck flipped over on its side. We all have to wait until the investigation is completed but as we can see, it was definitely not the fault of the bus driver. Have a Blessed Easter. And let’s pray for Mr. Costello.

  • Do you believe they will obey the warning signs?

  • Do you believe they will obey the warning signs?

  • Have you ever driven on sound ave, I’ve never seen a truck that wasn’t speeding except farm trucks.

  • for starters.. if you have an 18 wheeler truck, empty it will take some speed to get up an incline…. now when you have a loaded 18wheeler, loaded, it takes alot more speed, power to climb a hill… otherwise he might stall…….. as much as you want to blame speed and the driver, the truck passed all inspections and all… if his load shifted it could of easily tipped the truck causing him to strike the bus…. etc… think along those lines when considering the blame game!!

  • the drivers at maryhaven are the most dedicated mistreated way underpaid less than $12 an hour workers on Long Island. CEO louis Grossman calls the clients his people,and yet he has very little if any contact with them, well Lou ask Gary the under paid van driver if the deceased wasn’t like his own child. I know he was. My heart goes out to the family. My heart also goes out to the driver Gary who is also suffering a loss as if he was his own.

  • it is funny to here people complain about how fast trucks drive down sound ave or any other road for that matter when in fact cars drive twice as fast. People are quick to make judgement when a horriffic accident like this occurs. To all those who get stuck behind a truck on sound ave. that is actually driving respectfully and your running late to catch the Orinet ferry maybe you should sit back and relax. I have seen many stupid things all drivers do to get around trucks. Everyone needs to more considerate of each other on the road and have more respect!