Cabbie from Riverhead dies after ‘road rage’ incident in Hampton Bays

04/27/2012 4:31 PM |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The Chase in Hampton Bays where Robert Levasseur was involved in a dispute with a woman Saturday. Another man allegedly struck him.

A Riverhead taxi driver and U.S. Air Force veteran who was punched from behind after a “road rage incident” last weekend in Hampton Bays has died of his injuries, authorities said.

Robert Levasseur, 53, died early Thursday at Stony Brook University Medical Center, said Southampton Town police Sgt. Lisa Costa.

According to police, Mr. Levasseur, a taxi driver for Four Ones Taxi Service in Hampton Bays, was involved in an altercation with a woman motorist behind the Chase Bank on Montauk Highway about 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 21.

During the altercation, another man, identified by police as Kenneth Tofty-Forrest, 28, of Hampton Bays, struck Mr. Levasseur, officials said. Mr. Levasseur was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment and later transferred to Stony Brook University Medical Center where he died.

One law enforcement source said Mr. Tofty-Forrest allegedly “struck the victim from behind and the victim fell to the ground.”

A colleague of Mr. Levasseur’s interviewed near the scene Friday said he witnessed part of the incident. He said Mr. Tofty-Forrest intervened on the woman’s behalf, “but got a little overzealous.” ”

“And now Robert is dead,” said the other Four Ones driver, who would not give a name.

It was not clear what, exactly, led to the dispute, or what the relationship was — if any — between Mr. Tofty Forrest and the woman.

Mr. Tofty-Forrest was arrested and charged with third-degree assault at the time of the incident, Sgt. Costa said. He was processed, arraigned in Southampton Justice Court and held at the Suffolk County jail on $5,000 bail, though he was later re-arraigned in town court and released on $500 bail, police said.

Sgt. Costa said Southampton police and the district attorney’s office are currently investigating further charges against Mr. Tofty-Forrest.

Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, said only that “the defendant is charged with third degree assault and the investigation is ongoing.”

Mr. Levasseur, who graduated from Rocky Point High School in 1976, served in the Air Force twice, from 1979 to 1983 and again from 1985 to 1989, earning the rank of staff sergeant.

He was driving a taxi at the time of the incident, officials said.

His family could not be immediately reached for comment, and other workers found at the Four Ones Taxi Service declined to speak due to the ongoing police investigation.

psquire@timesreview.com