06/19/13 4:08pm
06/19/2013 4:08 PM

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.


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.


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.



05/21/13 5:54pm
05/21/2013 5:54 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A Suffolk County helicopter lands near the county center in Riverside Tuesday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A Suffolk helicopter lands near the County Center Tuesday afternoon.

A man was airlifted to a local hospital Tuesday afternoon after being struck by a car while riding a bike on Route 24 in Flanders, Southampton Town police said.

The accident happened about 3:30 p.m. near Cypress Avenue, a few hundred feet east of County Road 105, police said. The cyclist, who was not identified by police, was then taken by Flanders Northampton ambulance volunteers to the County Center in Riverside.

Riverhead fire crews had cleared a landing zone just south of the County Center’s parking lot.

The injured man was airlifted by a county police helicopter to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

No information as to the extent of the man’s injuries was immediately available.



05/21/13 11:00am
COURTESY PHOTO | An undated photo of Aaron Hartmann, who was seriously injured Sunday morning.

COURTESY PHOTO | An undated photo of Aaron Hartmann, who was seriously injured on May 12.

Detectives are still “actively investigating” the early morning crash that seriously injured a 23-year-old Riverhead man on May 12, authorities said this week.

The Southampton Town Police Department is looking into the possibility that others may have gotten involved in the incident after the crash itself, although no additional charges have yet been made

The probe will continue “to right any other wrongs,” Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa told the News-Review.

Meanwhile, Aaron Hartmann, the man injured in the crash on County Road 105, is continuing his recovery at Stony Brook Medical Center, relatives said.

Mr. Hartmann’s uncle, Bobby, said his nephew is in stable condition. He’s speaking a bit, though quietly, and breathing without the assistance of a respirator. Doctors are monitoring his brain for any swelling and conducted a skin graph on his leg last week.

Although police arrested Jacqueline Celentano, 21, of Calverton, last Tuesday for leaving the scene of the crash on County Road 105 in Flanders, Bobby Hartmann said he still wants answers as to why no crime scene and accident investigation happened immediately after police were called to the scene.

Police Chief Robert Pearse had told the News-Review officers didn’t fully recognize the seriousness of the injuries, and some confusion involving second-hand information also led to the delay.

Bobby Hartmann said he just wants to be sure no such serious crimes are mishandled in the future.

“What type of safeguards are they going to implement to make sure this happens again?” Bobby Hartmann. “We want to make lemonade out of lemons, and find out what can be learned from all of this.”

He also said that if Ms. Celentano was aided in attempting to allude police after the hit-and-run crash, then those people should step up and faces charges, to “pay their pound of flesh,” for any possible wrongdoing.

Ms. Celentano, a 2009 Riverhead High School graduate, was arraigned last Wednesday in Southampton Justice Court and later posted $30,000 bail. Two Riverhead Stop & Shop employees, who declined to give a name, said Ms. Celentano has been working at the Riverhead supermarket on Route 58 for about a year.

Detectives are looking into whether Ms. Celentano had been working late the night of the accident, Sgt. Costa said.

Bobby Hartmann asked that residents continue to pray for his nephew and Ms. Celentano.

“It’s OK to be mad at the situation,” he said, asking people to temper any feelings of ill-will toward her. “But she’s in the justice system now. She deserves to have her soul saved just as Aaron does or anybody else.”


with Michael White

05/17/13 2:20pm
05/17/2013 2:20 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Police investigate at the scene of a fatal car accident in Wading River Friday morning.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Police at the scene of a fatal car crash in Wading River Friday morning.

Riverhead Town police have identified a 62-year-old Selden man as the person killed in a Wading River car crash that shut Route 25A early Friday, authorities said.

Daniel Kiernan was driving east on Route 25A in a 1986 Chevrolet pickup near the Dunkin’ Donuts about 6:20 a.m. when he swerved into the eastbound shoulder of the road and crashed into the back of a tractor trailer illegally parked in the shoulder, a police report reads.

Police said they don’t know why Mr. Kiernan drove off the road.

The driver of the tractor trailer — 26-year-old Duwayne Tirado of New Britain, Conn. — had parked his vehicle on the shoulder of Route 25A and had the vehicle’s hazard lights on as he waited to make a delivery to a local landscaping company, police said.

Mr. Kiernan was pronounced dead at the scene and was removed from the car by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office personnel for an autopsy, police said.

There were no passengers in his truck, and no other injuries were reported, police said.

“I heard a loud bang,” said a Dunkin’ Donuts manager who called 911. She said police were on the scene within minutes.

“There were no other cars on the road,” she said of what she described as an eerie early morning scene.

Mr. Tirado was issued a summons for parking violations, police said. The truck is registered with Toria Truck Rental Inc. in Windsor Locks, Conn., police said.

Wading River Fire Chief Jim Evans said volunteer crews were called to the scene but were allowed to leave after finding there were no treatable injuries in the crash.

Suffolk County police and Riverhead police closed Route 25A for six hours as they investigated and cleared the scene. The crash is currently under investigation, Riverhead police said. Any witnesses to the crash are asked to call Riverhead detectives at (631) 727-4500.


05/13/13 10:14am
05/13/2013 10:14 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | An undated photo of Aaron Hartmann, who was seriously injured Sunday morning.

COURTESY PHOTO | An undated photo of Aaron Hartmann, who was seriously injured early Sunday.

UPDATE: Southampton Town police confirmed at 5 p.m. Monday that detectives are investigating an early Sunday incident in Flanders that seriously injured a 23-year-old man “as a hit and run accident.”

Police did not name the victim, who was identified by family Monday as Aaron Hartmann of Riverhead, or speak to the extent of his injuries.

Police said the man had “sustained injuries” and was found “in a disoriented state” just before 1 a.m. in the southbound side of County Road 105.

Flanders Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteers responded to the scene for treatment and took Mr. Hartmann to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, police said.

Family members said he was later transported to Stony Brook University Medical Center where he underwent surgery and has been on a ventilator.

Stony Brook officials on Monday said Mr. Hartmann is in critical condition.

Detective are asking anyone with information to call (631) 702-2230.

ORIGINAL STORY: Southampton Town police officers are investigating a possible hit-and-run accident that seriously injured a 23-year-old Riverhead man early Sunday in Flanders, police and family said.

FACEBOOK PHOTO | Aaron Hartmann in a hospital bed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

FACEBOOK PHOTO | Aaron Hartmann in a hospital bed at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

The incident, involved a vehicle and a pedestrian identified as Aaron Hartmann, family members said, happened about 1 a.m. along a stretch of County Road 105 called Cross River Drive.

Mr. Hartmann is being treated for injuries at Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he’s been on a ventilator and where his mother spent Mother’s Day sitting by his beside.

“I’m thinking somebody thought they hit a deer and kept going,” said Mr. Hartmann’s mother, Linda. “Or maybe they were drunk or didn’t have a license. With his injuries, I can’t picture somebody doing this [on purpose].”

They were able to save his leg, she said, but he suffered three broken bones. He underwent surgery and now has pins stabilizing the leg.

He also suffered facial fractures and doctors are trying to reduce swelling to the brain, she said Monday.

“He’s going to have some bleeding,” Ms. Hartmann said, adding that her son began to move a bit after hospital staff lightened his sedation.

“The nurse asked him something and Aaron gave him a thumbs up,” she said. ”He definitely needs another surgery on his leg. He’s going to need to have therapy and learn how to walk again.”

Mr. Hartmann is currently listed in critical condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center, hospital officials said.

Friends and family have been circulating a photo on Facebook of Aaron Hartmann from his hospital bed, amid complaints that police officials and the media failed to report the incident sooner.

“Aaron’s has had some troubles, but he’s been doing well,” said an uncle, Bobby Hartmann, while mentioning his nephew’s prior arrests. Those include an August 2011 arrest in connection with an attempted robbery.

“He’s a well-mannered, good-hearted kid and he deserves better,” he added.

Southampton Town police Sergeant Lisa Costa would only say on Monday that the incident “is still under investigation.”

Bobby Hartmann said he and his family were let down by what the uncle described as a lack of communication from the police department. But, he said, relatives were relieved to hear from police Monday.

Ms. Hartmann said said she believed her son was walking home from a birthday party at the time he was injured. He was ready to start a new job in landscaping this Wednesday, she said, and his girlfriend is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The baby is due in three weeks, Ms. Hartmann said.

She also said her son had been hit by a drunken driver two years ago while walking on Flanders Road.

“It’s a very bad area” for pedestrians, she said.

In June 2011, then-13-year-old Rashad Jackson was seriously injured after being struck by a Chevy pickup truck while riding his bicycle westbound in the crosswalk on Flanders Road near County Road 105 in Flanders.

He recovered after a long stay at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.


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04/29/13 3:45pm
04/29/2013 3:45 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman driving this Hyundai Santa Fe crashed into three other vehicles Monday morning, sending all four drivers to the hospital.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A woman driving this Hyundai Santa Fe crashed into three other vehicles Monday morning, sending all four drivers to the hospital.

Update: The woman injured in Monday morning’s four-car accident is listed in “critical condition” at Stony Brook University hospital, according to a hospital official.

Original Story: A Coram woman was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries after crossing into oncoming traffic on Route 25 in Wading River Monday morning and smashing into three vehicles, Riverhead Town police said.

Three other people suffered minor injuries in the crash, police said.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The wreckage of a pickup truck that was struck in a multi-car accident in Calverton Monday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The wreckage of a pickup truck that was struck in a multi-car accident in Calverton Monday.

Police said Melinda Covino-Costanza, 39, of Coram was driving a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe compact SUV eastbound near Fink’s Farm about 7:40 a.m. when she crossed into the westbound lane and struck a 1993 Mercury driven by Daniel Sheppard, 62, of Mattituck.

Ms. Covino-Costanza kept driving east and collided with two other vehicles, a 2000 Dodge pickup truck driven by Sean Gordon, 38, of Jamesport and a Chrysler 300 sedan driven by Calverton resident Richard Murdock, 57, before stopping in front of the farmstand, police said.

Riverhead and Suffolk County police closed off Route 25 as Wading River and Ridge fire crews rushed to the scene.

Ms. Covino-Costanza was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center with “serious physical injuries,” according to a police report issued about 3:30 p.m.

An airlift was called to take her to the hospital, but she was taken by Wading River ambulance crews by ground instead because she couldn’t be stabilized, said Wading River Fire Chief Jim Evans.

Mr. Murdock, Mr.Gordon, and Mr. Sheppard were taken by Wading River, Ridge and Riverhead ambulance crews to Peconic Bay Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries, police said. There were no passengers in any of the vehicles, police said.

Police impounded all of the vehicles for a safety inspection.

Ms. Covino-Costanza was issued a traffic violation for driving on worn-out tires, though the investigation is continuing.

Mr. Gordon was cited for unlicensed driving, according to the report.

Investigators are asking that any witnesses to the crash call (631) 727-4500 ext.326.

All calls will be kept confidential.


Correction: An earlier version of this story stated Ms. Covino-Costanza was airlifted to Stony Brook University hospital. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital.