The 10 most read News-Review stories of summer 2014

09/01/2014 2:00 PM |

Most read news-review stories

The following are the 10 most read News-Review stories since Memorial Day, according to, which tracks our website traffic:

1. Skydiver killed, instructor critically injured in Calverton

A New York City corrections officer was killed one day before his birthday and another man was critically injured in a skydiving accident at Skydive Long Island in Calverton July 30, officials said.

Federal authorities said the accident, believed to be the result of a mini-tornado, occurred at 4:10 p.m.

Relatives identified the deceased as Gary Messina of Medford, a New York City corrections officer since 2012 and a graduate of Patchogue-Medford High School. He was the father of one son, his family said.

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2. Castello di Borghese winery owner dies in Wading River crash

Marco Borghese, a pillar of Long Island’s winemaking community, was killed in a car crash on Route 25A in Wading River June 30 after failing to navigate a curve and swerving head-on into an oncoming truck, Riverhead Town police said.

Mr. Borghese, 70, of Cutchogue, the owner of Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery, was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where he died, police said. His death comes just days after his wife, Ann Marie Borghese, 56, also died following a battle with cancer.

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3. Teen killed after falling from Wading River bluff

As you walk east along Oakwood on the Sound beach at the end of Hulse Landing Road in Wading River, a fence stretching more than 100 yards contains signs warning beachgoers of the dangerous collapsing cliffs above.

But just beyond the fencing are several bluffs that, although steep, can be climbed by any able-bodied person seeking a thrill.

On the evening of May 25, during a private Memorial Day weekend party on the beach, a climb up one of those bluffs turned tragic.

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4. Manorville man charged in two cold case murders

A 48-year-old Manorville man was arrested July 21 in connection with a pair of cold case murders from the 1990s, Suffolk County Police said.

John Bittrolff of Silas Carter Road, in Brookhaven Town, is accused of killing two women and dumping their bodies in wooded areas in East Patchogue and Shirley. Mr. Bittrolff, who was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, was connected to the crimes through DNA evidence, police said.

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5. Jamesport woman: Someone took my table, left $10 and a note

A Jamesport homeowner said she was a little surprised to find a note and a $10 bill left at her front door when she returned home from a brief excursion to Greenport June 23.

But she was downright shocked when she realized that, in exchange for the money, the person took a metal table and three stained glass beads from her backyard.

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6. State agency issued stop work order at Cody’s BBQ

A downtown Riverhead restaurant closed in May after it received a stop work order from the New York State Workers Compensation Board for failing to comply with state labor laws, an agency spokeswoman said.

Cody’s BBQ & Grill was issued the stop work order May 12 after an investigator found the restaurant was still operating nearly nine months after its workers’ compensation insurance policy was canceled, said WCB spokeswoman Rachel McEneny.

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7. Miller Avenue Elementary School principal fired

Less than a year after she was named principal at Miller Avenue Elementary School, Patricia Nugent was fired in June after the Shoreham-Wading River school board approved Superintendent Steven Cohen’s recommendation to deny her tenure.

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8. Woman killed in crash on Nugent Drive 

A Riverside woman was killed July 29 after her car drifted from Nugent Drive near the county jail and hit a tree. 

According to New York State Police, 76-year-old Saundra Highland was driving southbound in her 2010 Ford just west of the Riverside jail when she “drifted into the center median and struck a tree.”

Investigators said the crash, which occurred shortly before 3:30 p.m., did not appear to be suspicious and that no other car was involved in the accident.

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9. Flanders family prepare to fight to keep roadway sign

Two weeks after posting a large sign on Flanders Road urging drivers to avoid texting and driving, a Flanders woman said she was feeling pressure to take it down.

In the wake of two fatal accidents earlier this year that killed two of her family members, Susan Tocci of Flanders erected the double-sided sign on her Flanders Road property.

The sign pictures her sister, Barbara Tocci on one side, with the words “Save a Life: Do Not Text and Drive. Barbara Tocci 1966-2014.”

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10. ‘Not in line of duty’ ruling left soldier’s family without benefits

More than 400,000 soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

One of them is Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz Jr., who was brought back to the United States from Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on Jan. 30, 2011, two days after his death. He was carried off a plane at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware by seven servicemen on an U.S. Army carry team — an American flag draped over the case carrying his body.

Eleven days later, the Wading River native was laid to rest at Arlington with full military honors.

A married 30-year-old father of two, the Green Beret was remembered as a hero by those who attended his burial in section 60, site 9509 of America’s second most populated national cemetery.

That plot may be where Sgt. Venetz’s decade-long service to the military ended, but for the family he left behind, the battle continues today.

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