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.

03/31/13 12:23pm
03/31/2013 12:23 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Three children were hurt after a car crashed into a tree in Calverton.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Three children were hurt after a car crashed into a tree in Calverton.

Three children were injured when the car they were riding in swerved off the road and struck a tree Sunday morning after the driver accidentally made a wrong turn into oncoming traffic in Calverton, police said.

A 17-year-old was driving a blue Honda Civic east on Route 25 in Calverton with her mother and two siblings about 11:10 a.m. when she tried to follow another car making an illegal left turn north onto Route 25A, police said. The teen, who was unfamiliar with the area, thought the oncoming turning lane was her turning lane and “panicked” when she saw oncoming traffic, police at the scene said.

The Civic swerved off the road, fell into a ditch and hit a tree on the east side of Route 25A, police said.

The three children in the car, two young kids and a teenager, were taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center by Wading River and Riverhead ambulance volunteers for treatment of minor injuries, emergency officials said. The mother was not injured in the crash, police at the scene said.

Police briefly closed the road while the accident scene was being cleared. By 11:45 a.m., the roads were reopened.


03/17/13 12:10pm
03/17/2013 12:10 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A man was hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries after he crashed into a tree on Shultz Road Sunday morning.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | A man was hospitalized with non life-threatening injuries after he crashed into a tree on Shultz Road Sunday morning.

A man was injured in Calverton after the car he was driving collided with a tree on the side of the road Sunday morning, police said.

The man was driving a white Chrysler Sebring JX south on Shultz Road about 10:55 a.m. when he lost control of the car and hit a tree on the west side of the road, police at the scene said.

Riverhead ambulance volunteers and firefighters from the Manorville Fire Department rushed to the scene. Manorville fire crews helped secure the car while the man was treated by ambulance volunteers.

The man, who was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, suffered a cut to his head and an injury to his right leg in the crash, police said. He was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital for non life-threatening injuries.

No one else was in the car, police said.

Shultz Road was closed while the victim was pulled out of the car and taken to the hospital. The road was still closed as of 11:45 a.m.


03/10/13 10:00am
03/10/2013 10:00 AM

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Efren Ramirez was struck and killed near this section of Flanders Road by a drunk driver last year.

A Suffolk County corrections sergeant who struck and killed a Flanders man while driving drunk last year will not face jail time after pleading guilty to driving while intoxicated in Suffolk County court.

Christopher Dean, 41, of Riverhead pleaded guilty in December to a misdemeanor DWI charge. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and had his driver’s license revoked for six months, according to online court records.

Mr. Dean will also be required to have an interlock device installed in his car as part of his sentence and will undergo alcohol and drug counseling, officials said.

Mr. Dean, a 15-year veteran with the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and a sergeant at the Riverside jail, was driving his girlfriend’s 2002 Mercedes-Benz west on Flanders Road about 12:30 a.m. on June 26 when he hit Efren Ramirez of Flanders, who was walking on the westbound side of the roadway.

Southampton Town police who responded to the scene found Mr. Ramirez lying dead in the road near the Old Quogue Road intersection, police said at the time. The officers reported that Mr. Dean’s eyes were “bloodshot and glassy” and his breath smelled of an alcoholic beverage, according to a criminal complaint against Mr. Dean.

Police also said that Mr. Dean was “unsteady afoot” and “performed poorly on field sobriety tests.”

But an accident investigation revealed that the victim had been highly intoxicated at the time of the crash and was walking in the roadway when Mr. Dean struck him, said Suffolk County District Attorney spokesman Bob Clifford.    A police investigation also found that Mr. Dean had been traveling “at or below the speed limit” when the crash occurred and was not driving erratically.

“Although the driver, Dean, was intoxicated there was no evidence that he was driving his vehicle in a manner that would allow an upgrade in the charges,” Mr. Clifford said. “You’d have to establish recklessness [to file more serious charges].”

The victim worked at a local McDonald’s restaurant and is survived by his wife and 3-year-old son, as well as the couple’s two other young children, who are living back in Guatemala.

Mr. Dean was suspended without pay for 100 days after his arrest, said Suffolk County undersheriff John Meyerricks.

“My initial response was to seek termination if felony charges were filed,” Mr. Meyerricks said, calling the crash a “tragic, tragic event.” When the charges were not upgraded to felonies, Mr. Dean’s suspension was upheld and he was reinstated as a corrections officer after the suspension was served.

Mr. Dean will also undergo drug and alcohol testing through the sheriff’s department as part of his disciplinary proceedings, Mr. Meyerricks said.