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Cops: Driver charged with DWI after striking 5-year-old boy on bicycle

A 5-year-old boy was seriously injured after being struck by an alleged drunken driver while bicycling in Riverhead Saturday night, according to Riverhead Town police.

Police responded to the intersection of Lewis Street and Doris Avenue shortly after 6:40 p.m. and found the boy lying in the roadway with a serious head injury. Members of the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to assist the boy and he was then flown via medevac to Stony Brook University Hospital, police said. The boy’s condition was downgraded from critical to serious at the time of the early morning press release Sunday.

Police said the driver of a 2003 Cadillac Escalade, William Downing of Riverhead, remained at the scene. Riverhead detectives and the New York State Police Accident Reconstruction Unit responded to investigate and determined Mr. Downing was attempting a left-hand turn on to Doris Avenue from Lewis Street when the vehicle struck the bicyclist in the intersection.

Mr. Downing, 77, was found to be operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and was arrested for DWI, pending toxicology reports, police said. Mr. Downing, who has lived in Riverhead for 46 years and is retired, was arraigned in Riverhead Town Justice Court Sunday morning and released on $500 bail. His wife, daughter and pastor attended the arraignment before Judge Lori Hulse. They declined comment. Mr. Downing was represented by a Legal Aid attorney.

He is due back in court Aug. 21.

The vehicle was impounded for safety checks. The investigation is ongoing and any witnesses are asked to call Riverhead detectives at 631-727-4500, ext. 326.

Police could not immediately confirm to the News-Review whether the boy was wearing a helmet. In New York, all bicyclists under the age of 14 are required to wear helmets.

Photo caption: The bicycle in the roadway where the crash took place. (Credit: Stringer News)