Featured Story

Top Stories 2020: Riverhead police officer seriously injured in crash

A Riverhead police officer was seriously injured during a police pursuit in March that began in Greenport.

Robert Sproston, 28, was responding to a report of a stolen vehicle fleeing westbound on March 31 when his police cruiser collided with another car near the intersection of Youngs Avenue, causing his vehicle to go off the road and into a fence, according to Riverhead Town Police Chief David Hegermiller.

He suffered serious injuries to the upper torso and neck area and spent weeks in the intensive care unit at Stony Brook University Hospital, where he underwent several reconstructive surgeries.

Following the crash, the Riverhead community rallied to show support for Mr. Sproston, a Marine and member of the Riverhead Fire Department’s Redbird Hook & Ladder Company. A GoFundMe page raised over $50,000 for his recovery as “Fighting with Sproston” stickers appeared throughout the community.

In May, sirens blared from dozens of vehicles as a Suffolk County police motorcade led an escort for Mr. Sproston as he arrived home to continue the next phase of rehab. Firefighters, fellow officers and friends cheered as the parade passed by on Riley Avenue in Calverton.

The driver of the stolen vehicle, Alfred Cowell, who has a history of fleeing police, allegedly removed keys from a home on Brown Street in Greenport and refused to stop for police, reaching speeds of 100 mph on Route 48 while heading west into Riverhead Town, where units from Riverhead and the New York State Police began a pursuit.

Mr. Cowell, 40, was arrested in Mastic Beach days later by Suffolk County Sheriffs and has since been charged with burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unlawfully fleeing police, reckless driving, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and a number of traffic violations.