08/05/13 12:38pm
08/05/2013 12:38 PM

Riverhead PoliceAlleged drunken drivers kept Riverhead Town police busy this past week, as eight people were arrested for driving while intoxicated, according to reports.

Last Sunday, July 28, Carol Mason, 31, of Wading River, was arrested for aggravated DWI after getting into a car accident on Wading River Manorville Road about 2 p.m., Riverhead Town police said.

Then on Wednesday, Dennis Tinnin, age and hometown unavailable, was arrested for DWI about 10:30 p.m. on Middle Road in Riverhead, police said.

A 54-year-old Brookhaven woman was arrested Friday after police received a 911 call reporting an erratic driver, according to a police report. Celina Matusewicz was arrested for aggravated DWI after she was seen driving on the shoulder of Route 58 about 9:45 p.m., police said.

On Saturday, Louis Evers, 53, of Flanders was arrested for DWI after allegedly speeding by the intersection of Cross River Drive and Riverside Drive in Riverhead, police said.

A few hours later on Saturday, Carlos Rodriguez-Cruz, 25, of Riverhead, was arrested about 3:30 a.m. after failing to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of Lewis Street and Segal Avenue, police said. Mr. Rodriguez-Cruz was arrested for DWI and charged with other violations, according to a report.

Two men were arrested on Sunday morning for DWI in two separate incidents involving car accidents, according to police reports. John Simpson, 26, of Riverhead was arrested after a crash about 2:20 a.m. on Sound Avenue, police said. Almost a half-hour later, Sergio Ruben Osorio, also 26, of Greenport was arrested for aggravated DWI after crashing a red Mazda on Route 58. That crash happened at 2:45 a.m., police said.

Mr. Osorio was charged with aggravated DWI, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle along with other violations, according to a report. Additional information on the crashes was not immediately available.

Ismain Velazquez-Hernandez, 29, of Riverhead, was stopped by police on Segal Avenue about 1 a.m. Monday after failing to use a turning signal, according to a police report. He was arrested for DWI and aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle, police said. He also has a prior DWI conviction, according to a report.

07/14/13 12:00pm
07/14/2013 12:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | The crash happened along the north side of Route 25A, just a few few feet west of Randall Road.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | The early Sunday crash happened along the north side of Route 25A, just a few feet west of Randall Road in Wading River.

UPDATE: Investigators are saying there was no criminal involvement on the part of a 21-year-old driver who struck and killed a pedestrian on Route 25A in Wading River early Sunday.

No arrest or tickets have been issued, said Suffolk County police Sergeant Steven Guyer.

Mr. Feinberg had been driving to his Shoreham home after dropping off a friend in Wading River at the time of the crash, Sgt. Guyer said.

He said the pedestrian who died, Nicholas Pieloch, 20, of Rocky Point, and two other people had been walking from Randall Road and just made a right onto Route 25A when the accident happened.

Mr. Pieloch was the only person hit, Sgt. Guyer said. He died at the scene.

STORY: A 20-year-old Rocky Point man has been identified as the person struck and killed by an SUV on Route 25A in Wading River early Sunday, police said.

Nicholas Pieloch died at the scene after he was hit by a 2001 Ford Explorer driven Jesse Feinberg, 21, was traveling westbound on Route 25A, just west of Randall Road, Suffolk County police said.

After striking Mr. Pieloch, the vehicle then crossed over the eastbound lane and hit a tree before overturning. Route 25A was closed in both directions for an investigation and didn’t open until about 9:45 a.m., police said.

Mr. Feinberg, of Shoreham, was not injured in the crash.

A nearby resident said about one accident a month occurs where Route 25A meets Randall Road, which leads to a large residential area.

“That is a very dangerous corner,” said Frank Vaughan, who’s lived on Randall Road for three decades. “We’ve been trying to get a traffic light for years.”

Police are asking anyone with information to call (631) 852-8752.


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07/10/13 2:17pm
07/10/2013 2:17 PM
Plummer

JAMES CARBONE/NEWSDAY POOL |  Joseph Plummer listens to victim impact statements at his sentencing Wednesday in Suffolk County criminal court.

The sister of a Brookhaven man killed in a hit-and-run on East Main Street last December stood in a Suffolk County courtroom Wednesday morning — a few feet from the driver who admitted to fleeing the scene of the crash — and described her family’s pain.

PLummer family

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Family members of hit-and-run victim Scott Wayte walk out of court moments after Joseph Plummer was sentenced to two to six years in prison.

Wendy Worytko talked about the victim’s two daughters who have suffered the loss of a father, and about the kind of devoted family man Scott Wayte was.

“How can you live with yourself?” she asked Joseph Plummer, the driver in the hit-and-run now clad in a dark green jumpsuit, his hands cuffed behind his back. “You are despicable.”

Ms. Worytko told the court she prefers not to use the word “hate.”

“Except for you, Joseph Plummer,” she said. “I hate you.”

More than a dozen family members and friends of Mr. Wayte packed into the Suffolk County criminal courtroom to voice their disgust with Mr. Plummer as he was sentenced to two to six years in prison for driving away from the Dec. 28 accident and attempting to cover up the crime.

His sentence was the maximum allowed under the law.

Family members and prosecutors said the case is a clear example of why the law should be changed to allow for tougher punishments against hit-and-run drivers.

“It was a singular act of thoughtlessness, a singular act of heinousness,” said Suffolk County Judge Mark Cohen during sentencing.

Judge Cohen he told Mr. Plummer the sentence will “hopefully allow you to contemplate what you’ve done.”

But Suffolk County assistant district attorney Al Croce said Mr. Plummer deserved a much more harsh sentence for his crime.

“He has shown no remorse throughout the proceedings,” Mr. Croce said. “He doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions.”

Mr. Croce added that Mr. Plummer should be “removed from society for as long as possible.”

Mr. Croce said the DA’s office believes Mr. Plummer had been drinking before the accident, but since he didn’t stop at the scene of the crash and was arrested days after attempted to cover up the crime, prosecutors could not get enough evidence to prove he was drunk.

“This is a classic example of the need for stronger legislation,” he said.

After the sentencing, District Attorney Thomas Spota and family members urged the New York State Assembly to pass a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge hit-and-run drivers with more serious offenses.

The bill, which was passed by the state senate in February, has stalled in the lower house of the Legislature.

Mr. Spota said had the bill been in effect, Mr. Plummer could have been sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

“We have asked and asked and asked the Assembly to do whatever they possibly could to pass this legislation as soon as possible,” Mr. Spota said. “[Mr. Plummer] deserves to have at least been charged with manslaughter and he would have been doing 15 years in jail.”

Mr. Spota said the DA’s office is currently prosecuting other cases with similar circumstances where hit-and-run drivers could get off easy as well.

“It’s almost slaughter on the highways these days, and this is legislation that should have been passed a long long time ago,” Mr. Spota said.

Mr. Plummer, 49, of Middle Island — a two-time convicted felon with six more misdemeanor convictions to his name — had pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving the death of a pedestrian, a class “D” felony, last month.

Mr. Wayte was celebrating his 50th birthday with family on Dec. 28 when he was struck by Mr. Plummer while trying to cross East Main Street.

Prosecutors said Mr. Plummer was traveling home from working on a pool in Aquebogue at the time of the incident and had been drinking vodka on the day of the crash since morning from a Poland Spring water bottle.

Because he wasn’t apprehended until several days later, authorities couldn’t prove he was drunk at the time of the crash,

Mr. Wayte was knocked into the opposite lane by Mr. Plummer’s car, where he was struck by a second car. While the driver of the second vehicle stopped to help Mr. Wayte, Mr. Plummer fled the scene and drove 10 miles to a gas station despite severe damage to his car’s windshield.

Mr. Croce said Mr. Plummer used pool lining to hide the damaged car, and noted that even though Mr. Plummer saw news reports detailing the deadly accident, he refused to come forward and tried to dodge responsibility.

During sentencing Mr. Plummer’s attorney, Harmon Lutzer, requested a grace period for his client to “get his affairs in order” before sentencing, but judge Mark Cohen denied it after assistant district attorney Al Croce said Mr. Plummer had failed to appear in court four times before this case.

Lutzer admitted that Mr. Plummer had a drinking and drugs problem and requested he be sentenced to the full two to six years and placed into a treatment program while in prison.

Mr. Plummer made a brief statement to the family, and appeared to tear up as he spoke.

“I’m very sorry to the whole family that this ever happened,” he said. “It wasn’t on purpose, it was an accident.” Mr. Plummer paused to compose himself, but didn’t say anything else.

Mr. Wayte’s daughter, Brooke, spoke at the sentencing and said people had no idea how much her father’s death affected their family.

“What everyone else doesn’t know is that I lost my life as well,” she said while holding back tears. “On that night, I lost my biggest fan and supporter.”

Ms. Wayte said her father’s death “crippled my family,” adding that they are now dealing with financial concerns because Mr. Wayte was the breadwinner for the family.

Ms. Wayte also read a statement from her sister, Alexandra.

“For you to hit my dad and drive away and cover it up shows what kind of man you are,” Ms. Wayte wrote.

Melanie Stafford, who was Mr. Wayte’s niece, said she had little hope that Mr. Plummer would reform his ways.

“There’s nothing I can find on record, nothing, that shows you’ve done any good for your community or family,” she said. “Now you’ve committed the ultimate robbery. You took a life.”

Ms. Stafford noted the irony that Mr. Plummer will spend his 50th birthday in prison and said that she hopes he gets “thrown around like a trash bag on the side of the road” while in prison.

“You are marked as scum for life,” she said. “You’re scum and I hope you rot in hell.”

psquire@timesreview.com

06/30/13 12:35pm
06/30/2013 12:35 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Police are searching for a black SUV involved in a crash in Calverton Sunday morning.

Riverhead Town police are searching for a black SUV involved in a hit-and-run crash on Route 25 in Calverton around noon Sunday, police said.

The three-vehicle accident, which occurred near J&R’s Steakhouse, led to two passengers on a Hyundai sedan being transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries.

While the driver of the Hyundai and the driver of a Jeep stopped at the scene of the crash, police said the driver of the black SUV fled the scene.

Police believe the rear passenger side of the SUV is damaged.

Anyone with information is asked to call Riverhead Town police at 727-4500.

jennifer@timesreview.com

06/27/13 2:08pm
06/27/2013 2:08 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | This Ford pickup hit a pole and flipped on Sound Avenue in Wading River Thursday, just west of Hulse Landing Road.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | This Ford pickup hit a pole and flipped on Sound Avenue in Wading River Thursday, just west of Hulse Landing Road.

A portion of Sound Avenue in Wading River was closed to traffic about 1:30 p.m. Thursday after a pickup truck hit a pole and flipped just west of Hulse Landing Road.

A Suffolk County Police Department medevac helicopter was called to the scene, though it was determined the Ford pickup’s four occupants suffered only minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to Stony Brook Medical Center.

The crash happened in front of Lewin Farms, where firefighters used a Jaws of Life tool to extract the four victims.

Police at the scene said speed might have been a factor in the crash.

jennifer@timesreview.com

06/19/13 4:08pm
06/19/2013 4:08 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police inspect the scene of the crash Wednesday afternoon.

Riverhead police and fire crews closed Northville Turnpike Wednesday afternoon after a driver swerved off the road and smashed into a utility pole, injuring herself and leaving downed wires in the street.

The woman — whose identity was not released by police — was driving north in a Toyota Camry on Northville Turnpike between Elton Street and Fischel Avenue when she lost control of the car just before 3 p.m., police said.

The woman collided with a utility pole on the side of the road, spinning her car onto a nearby property, said Riverhead police Sgt. Ron Atkinson.

Riverhead ambulance crews were called to the scene to treat the woman, who didn’t suffer serious injuries in the crash, Sgt. Atkinson said.

Riverhead firefighters were also called to the scene to help free the woman from the wrecked car, but emergency volunteers were able to get her out without having to cut away the doors, fire officials said.

She was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment, police said.

There were no passengers in the car.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, Sgt. Atkinson said.

Fire police closed Northville Turnpike between Elton Street and Fischel Avenue as the ruined car was towed from the scene and the wires were cleared from the road.

The road remained closed as of 4 p.m.

psquire@timesreview.com

06/05/13 12:16pm
06/05/2013 12:16 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Joseph Plummer is led into Riverhead Town Justice Court  before his arraignment in January. He has since pleaded guilty to hitting a man with his car and fleeing the scene.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Joseph Plummer is led into Riverhead Town Justice Court before his arraignment in January. He has since pleaded guilty to hitting a man with his car and fleeing the scene.

The Middle Island man arrested in connection with a December hit and run in downtown Riverhead that killed a Brookhaven man celebrating his birthday has pleaded guilty to the felony charge against him, according to court records.

Joseph Plummer, 49, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving the death of a pedestrian, a class “D” felony, during a appearance in Suffolk County criminal court Monday.

The felony carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Mr. Plummer’s attorney, Harmon Lutzer, said his client was not offered a plea deal, and will accept what sentence judge Mark Cohen orders.

“It’s a tough case, and it’s a tragic circumstance,” Mr. Lutzer said. “It’s basically the totality of the circumstances [that caused him to plead guilty.] … Quite frankly, I don’t think he had a choice.”

Mr. Lutzer said a desire to answer questions about the crime may also have motivated his client to admit to the hit and run.

The victim in the crash, Scott Wayte, was celebrating his 50th birthday with family on Dec. 28 when he was struck by Mr. Plummer while trying to cross East Main Street.

Prosecutors said Mr. Plummer was traveling home from working on a pool in Aquebogue at the time of the incident and had been drinking vodka on the day of the crash since the morning from a Poland Spring water bottle; because he wasn’t apprehended until several days later, authorities couldn’t prove he was drunk at the time of the crash,

Mr. Wayte was knocked into the opposite lane where he was struck by a second car. While the driver of the second vehicle stopped to help Mr. Wayte, Mr. Plummer fled the scene and drove 10 miles to a gas station despite severe damage to his car’s windshield, said District Attorney Thomas Spota in a January press conference on the case.

Mr. Plummer contacted his boss, who owned the car involved in the incident. The two first planned to report the car stolen and take the insurance money before deciding to claim the car was damaged when it struck a tree, Mr. Spota said.

The two had splinters of wood they were planning to plant on the car to back up their claim and had covered the damaged car with a tarp until they could go through with their plan, Mr. Spota said.

Mr. Plummer was arrested two days later after a witness saw the hidden car and contacted police. Mr. Plummer’s boss cooperated with authorities was not charged with a crime.

Mr. Plummer had been previously convicted of two felonies, prosecutors said. He is being held at the Suffolk County correctional facility and will be sentenced on July 10.

psquire@timesreview.com

06/05/13 9:42am

BETH YOUNG COURTESY PHOTO | A Riverhead Town police officer attends to a motorcycle crash victim at the corner of Main Street and Roanoke Avenue

A motorcyclist was sent to Peconic Bay Medical Center after a collision with a Honda Accord at the corner of Main Street and Roanoke Avenue in downtown Riverhead Wednesday morning, Riverhead Town Police said.

The man was riding a black ZX-14 Kawasaki motorcycle west on East Main Street when he struck the passenger side of the sedan as the driver attempted to make a left onto Roanoke Avenue shortly before 9 a.m., police said.

The woman who was driving the Accord and her adult son reported no injuries at the scene, police said. The extent of the motorcyclists injuries were unknown, though police said he was moving his arms and legs.

“He took a pretty good hit,” said officer Michael Lombardo.

A portion of Roanoke Avenue remained closed until 9:30 a.m. as police cleared the crash scene.

psquire@timesreview.com