Update: Cops ID man killed in Baiting Hollow crash

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Police investigate the scene of a two vehicle crash on Sound Avenue in Calverton Wednesday.
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Riverhead Police investigate the scene of a two vehicle crash on Sound Avenue in Calverton Wednesday.

UPDATE: Brian Costello, 36, of Mount Sinai has been identified by Riverhead Police as the man killed in Wednesday afternoon’s bus and tractor trailer crash on Sound Avenue.

The victim was a Maryhaven Center of Hope care recipient.

Click here for funeral arrangements.

Original story: A passenger on a special needs bus was killed and eight others were injured after the driver of a tractor-trailer lost control navigating a curve on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow and flipped sideways, crushing the side of the bus, police said.

The Mack truck was loaded with gravel and traveling east about 3:10 p.m. when the driver, Robert Converse, 54, of Bellport, lost control and struck the bus, which was traveling west a quarter-mile west of Edwards Avenue, Riverhead Police said.

“They did have a passenger on the bus die,” said Police Chief David Hegermiller, though that victim, a man, was not immediately identified.

The bus was driven by Gary Rosset, 61, of Ridge, for Maryhaven Center of Hope, which runs several facilities on Long Island for the disabled.

Seconds after the crash, the driver of a Jeep Wrangler arrived and pulled Mr. Converse, who was bleeding from his ear and suffered lacerations to his face, witnesses said, out of the truck through a broken window.

The truck driver, who had been wearing a seatbelt, was loaded onto a gurney and taken to an area hospital by ambulance, the witnesses said.

“We saw smoke. The driver of the Jeep was pulling the truck driver out,” said 16-year-old Jaime Rockowitz of Wading River, a passenger in a car that came upon the scene.  The truck driver “was a little out of it. He was staring up in space.”

“He was bleeding from his ear,” added Kyle Fox, 17, of Rocky Point, who was in the same car as Mr. Rockowitz.

Five of the victims, including the one who died, were taken by ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment, with the other four being sent to John T. Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson, officials said.

Of the four survivors who were taken to Peconic Bay after the crash, three were released and another was transferred to Stony Brook University Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries, said a hospital spokeswoman.

The four patients taken to Mather hospital were treated and released, officials there said.

Lou Grossman of Maryhaven, based in Port Jefferson, said he couldn’t speak about the dead victim, saying only “our hearts go out to the family.”

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | A passenger on a Maryhaven bus, which can be seen here in the far background, was killed after a crash with a dump truck in Calverton.

The two witnesses to the crash, Mr. Rockowitz and Mr. Fox, said the tractor-trailer had flipped onto its side and that the impact blew out all the windows in the truck’s cab.

They also saw EMT workers run down a hill to attend to bus passengers.

“I saw them run over there with a respirator or something,” said witness Greg Scherer, 22, of Shoreham, who was headed west on Sound Avenue in a white Nissan when he came upon the crash.  “They were doing CPR on someone on the bus.”

Sound Avenue, westward from Edwards Avenue, remained closed through much of the evening as detectives investigated the cause of the crash.

Chief Hegermiller said he expected charges would be filed.

Riverhead firefighters were called to the scene to wash the area of fuel, which was spilling from one of the vehicles.

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With Vera Chinese and Tim Gannon