08/31/13 7:17pm
08/31/2013 7:17 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police Sgt. John Vail (center) scans the ocean as Police Officers Christopher Parkin (left) and Rich Freeborn watch on.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police Sgt. John Vail (center) scans the Sound as Police Officers Christopher Parkin (left) and Rich Freeborn watch on.

Police and firefighters from across the area swarmed Long Island Sound just west of Iron Pier Beach in Riverhead Saturday afternoon after someone reported a possible small aircraft crash a few miles off the beach.

Authorities later said they were unable to find any sign of the supposed aircraft after a roughly hour-long search.

The report initially came in as a call to police from a group who were driving near the beach, police said. The group thought they saw an ultra-light aircraft flying near the Sound, but when they turned around, they could see no sign of the plane, police said.

Riverhead police, Riverhead and Jamesport Fire Departments, the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, a Suffolk County police helicopter and the U.S. Coast Guard all rushed to the scene, said Riverhead police Lt. David Lessard.

Riverhead police and Jamesport Fire Department vessels were in the water searching for any sign of the plane near the off-shore oil terminal, but could find no evidence of a crash.

At 6:07 p.m., authorities called off the search. Lt. Lessard said the weather may have played a role in the false alarm.

“With the haze, maybe they didn’t see what they thought they saw,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

07/01/13 4:43pm
07/01/2013 4:43 PM
GOOGLE MAPS

GOOGLE MAPS | Authorities say two men were pulled from Flanders Bay Monday afternoon

An unconscious man was pulled from Flanders Bay Monday afternoon after a boat sailing from the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center spotted the swimmer in the water, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

A second man, who was from the same boat, was located still conscious about 20 minutes later in Flanders Bay and was pulled to safety by Southampton Bay constables.

The Coast Guard’s Shinnecock Station got the first report of a swimmer who was unconscious in the water about 2:30 p.m., when a Long Island Aquarium vessel found the man in Flanders Bay, said U.S. Guard Petty Officer Michael Fusco.

The Long Island Aquarium boat was unable to pull the man aboard, he said. A U.S. Coast Guard boat arrived on scene 11 minutes later and pulled the man from the water.

The man was unconscious when he was recovered from the bay, and remained unconscious as he was brought back to shore, Mr. Fusco said.

The Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance Corps took the man to a local hospital, Mr. Fusco said, though he did not specify which.

Less than 10 minutes after the first man was pulled from the water, a second man was spotted in Flanders Bay near a boat that had drifted away, Mr. Fusco said. That man, who was conscious but had become stranded in the water, was pulled aboard a Southampton Bay Constables vessel, Mr. Fusco said.

Authorities later learned the two men were from the same boat, though Mr. Fusco did not say how they ended up in the water.

Updates on the two men’s conditions were not immediately available.

psquire@timesreview.com

06/16/13 6:30pm
06/16/2013 6:30 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Police searched for an overturned boat near Wildwood State Park Sunday.

Local law enforcement responded to a report of an overturned boat floating in Long Island Sound near Wildwood State Park in Wading River Sunday afternoon.

Riverhead Town Police said a civilian aircraft called authorities after sighting a boat drifting about five miles from the beach at Wildwood State Park. The U.S. Coast Guard and Suffolk County Police assisted Riverhead Town Police in locating the boat, which was found about 4:30 p.m.

Police said the boat — a dinghy — had fishing gear on it, but nobody was spotted in the water and no one has been reported missing. They are calling the search precautionary.

Anyone with information on the boat can contact police at 727-4500.

ryoung@timesreview.com

06/03/13 12:25pm
06/03/2013 12:25 PM
Suffolk Sheriff's new marine boat

COURTESY PHOTO | Marine 41 will be available to all East End marine units.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office has purchased a custom-made, 41-foot emergency response ship equipped with high-tech features like side-scan sonar and forward-looking infrared cameras, allowing it to spy on bay and ocean bottoms and navigate through the night with the utmost confidence.

The vessel will be used by members of the East End Marine Task Force, established in 2007 to help coordinate marine units from across the East End. The task force includes sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Coast Guard officers. Marine law enforcement units from each of the five East End towns also signed a memorandum of agreement to share and standardize equipment and training.

The task force agreement allows participating personnel to cross town borders when needed, which “increases safety and keeps costs down,” said sheriff’s office’s marine unit commanding officer, Sgt. John Andrejack.

Sgt. Andrejack is tasked with overseeing and managing the new boat.

“I don’t know of any other vessels like this,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

The ship, Marine 41, is a C.B.R.N.E.-response vessel -— which stands for Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive — outfitted with radar, chart plotters and a dual-screen GPS. The boat is designed to be able to respond to a nuclear, chemical or biological attack or accident.

It’s powered by twin Cummins Diesel motors and does not have propellers. The boat is instead propelled by Hamilton Jets, which allow it to operate in very shallow water (less than three feet), officials said. The cabin air is always purified, with no outside air circulated inside. If the boat enters an area with hazardous smoke and fumes, there is constant clean air in the cabin, official said.

Marine 41 has firefighting capability with a water pump that can move 2,000 gallons a minute. It also comes with a 500-pound Davit winch to lift and recover things from the water.

“This is the most well-equipped response boat in the area,” said Sgt. Andrejack, who was involved in acquiring, designing and equipping the craft.

Officers on the task force from all different towns will crew the ship, he said.

“This vessel is crewed by multiple agencies, used for whatever town may need it for any large event,” Sgt. Andrejack explained, giveing the annual Maritime Festival in Greenport as one example. “It can be transferred from town to town when and where it is needed.”

The sheriff’s office was able to make the purchase using a $1.2 million Federal Emergency Management Agency Port Security Grant, officials said. The grant also allowed for the purchase of personal radiation protectors and 40 strong exposure suits that can be used to protect officers during severe storms or harsh winter weather, both to be distributed to members of the East End Marine Task Force.

The boat also came with a survival raft, EMT equipment and is able accommodate a patient on a backboard.

Marine 41 and all the on-board equipment cost $650,000.

A full-scale training exercise was recently performed on the boat. That simulation exercise, based on an actual recent event, involved a fishing vessel had dredged up hazardous material that the crew had to “decontaminate” before towing the vessel back to shore.

“A vessel of this capability was lacking in the region and the citizens of the East End deserve the capability and protection this asset provides,” Sgt. Andrejack said.

intern@timesreview.com

09/14/12 4:00pm
09/14/2012 4:00 PM

BETH YOUNG PHOTO |  Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota speaks at a press conference Friday at the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Hampton Bays.

The Suffolk County East End DWI Task Force plans to expand its mission to cover Boating While Intoxicated crimes next summer, after a successful inaugural summer of DWI checkpoints on the East End.

Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced the effort at a press conference at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Hampton Bays Friday afternoon.

“We just the other day decided the time had come when we had to do this,” said Mr. Spota, who said he had just recently been involved in the indictment of a man who killed a father of two when he was in a waterway channel going the wrong way at an excessive rate of speed. “I will deputize all the officers so they can cross local boundaries.”

Mr. Spota said the Coast Guard will also play a major role in the effort.

“All agencies will participate, even those that don’t have a boat,” he said. “We have to be as aggressive as we are on the land.”

Mr. Spota said the D.A.’s office will use the proceeds from assets seized from criminals to fund overtime expenses for local departments, as well as state grant money and fees that Suffolk County receives from people who are convicted of DWI.

“The residents of the East End will not be paying a nickel for this effort,” he said.

Mr. Spota added that the DWI Task Force checkpoints, which began Memorial Day Weekend throughout the East End and have netted numerous arrests each weekend, will continue on designated weekends through the end of this year.

Mr. Spota said he had personally spent 11 years as a homicide prosecutor consoling families who couldn’t understand how a drunk driver had ruined their family’s life.

He also thanked representatives from the East End police departments who participated in the effort, many of whom were at the press conference.

“The very worst part of policing is bearing the burden of knocking on that door to bear that terrible news,” he said.

“They say success has many fathers but failure is an orphan,” he said. “We have a lot of proud fathers here. As district attorney, I’m deeply grateful for their enthusiasm and cooperation.”

byoung@timesreview.com