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01/02/13 3:01pm
01/02/2013 3:01 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Joseph Plummer, 48, of Middle Island, plead not guilty in Riverhead Town Justice Court Wednesday.

A 48-year-old Middle Island man arrested in connection with last week’s fatal hit-and-run accident in downtown Riverhead pleaded not guilty to charges in Town Justice Court Wednesday.

Joseph Plummer is facing charges for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident involving the death of a pedestrian, a felony.

The victim, Scott Wyte of Brookhaven, was celebrating his 50th birthday with family and attempting to cross East Main Street when he was struck by two cars and died Friday evening.

Mr. Plummer is being held at the Suffolk County correctional facility. He’s due back in court Thursday at 2 p.m.

Judge Allen Smith told Mr. Plummer, who wore a blue sweatshirt and jeans to his arraignment, that he couldn’t receive bail because he’s a “two-time felon.”

Details about Mr. Plummer’s previous convictions weren’t immediately available.

Mr. Plummer said during his arraignment that he has worked seasonally for the past 27 years for a Middle Island pool company and couldn’t afford to hire an attorney.

Judge Smith said Mr. Plummer qualified for legal assistance since he claimed to make less than $10,000 last year.

Mr. Plummer was arrested after an investigation led to the location of the 1999 Saturn involved in the 5:40 p.m. accident in front of Cliff’s Rondezvous bar and restaurant.

Mr. Wayte was attempting to cross East Main Street from north to south when he was struck by Mr. Plummer’s westbound vehicle, police said. That impact sent Mr. Wayte into the eastbound lane, where he was struck again by a second vehicle, a 2006 Honda Pilot, driven by Ernest Austin, 53, of Glen Rock, Pa.

Mr. Austin continued driving eastbound for a short distance until he realized he struck someone and came to a stop near the Riverhead Stationary, according to police.

Mr. Wayte was pinned underneath the Honda when police first arrived at the scene and was pronounced dead by a responding paramedic from the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance.

Mr. Austin was not charged in relation to the accident.

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12/16/12 12:07pm
12/16/2012 12:07 PM

MIDDLE ISLAND FIRE DEPARTMENT COURTESY PHOTO | A truck driven by a Riverhead resident crashed into the P.C. Richard & Son store in Middle Island Sunday morning.

Thank God for trucks with no electric windows.

That’s what Harry and Louise Wilkinson of Riverhead are saying after their son Phil was able to manually roll down the window of his burning Ford Ranger and crawl to safety following a fiery crash in Middle Island early Sunday morning.

Mr. Wilkinson, 26, of Wilk’s 24 Hour Towing on West Main Street, was on the job about 3:30 a.m. Sunday when another driver crossed the double yellow line on Middle Country Road, struck his truck head-on and sent him crashing into a P.C. Richard & Sons electronics store as his truck burst into flames, his parents said.

“What saved him is the fact it was a cheaper model service vehicle,” Harry Wilkinson said. “He rolled down the windows and escaped. He couldn’t walk, he had to crawl.”

The other driver had fallen asleep, the Wilkinsons said.

Mr. Wilkinson was brought to safety by a Suffolk County police officer who drove past the scene almost immediately after the crash happened, Harry Wilkinson said.

Mr. Wilkinson was quickly transported to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he is being treated for a damaged spleen, cracked hip bone and a broken ankle. He is expected to have surgery on the ankle Monday morning, Harry Wilkinson said.

Due to the head-on nature of the crash, Mr. Wilkinson’s truck suffered severe damage to the front end, disabling his breaks.

“He was driving a smaller Ford Ranger up against a larger Suburban,” Harry Wilkinson said. “He said he was driving 45 miles per hour, assuming the other guy was also going 45, that’s 90 miles per hour head on.”

The other driver suffered a bump on his head, Harry Wilkinson said.

The fire was quickly extinguished by the Middle Island Fire Department.

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12/06/12 3:04pm
12/06/2012 3:04 PM
DUI, Brookhaven National Laboratory, bicyclist, Calverton


A Middle Island man arrested for allegedly hitting and killing a cyclist while on high on drugs earlier this month had his bail reduced last week so he could “spend the holidays with his family,” the man’s defense attorney said.

William Slatton, 30, posted bail Nov. 20 after an application was made by Central Islip attorney Joseph Cozzo, who said Riverhead Town court determined he was not a flight risk.

Mr. Slatton was driving with four children under the age of nine in his car and with a suspended license when he hit a bicyclist on Route 25 in Calverton on Nov. 1, authorities said.

The bicyclist, Steven Kane, 57, of Brightwaters, was pronounced dead at the scene, despite the efforts of several passing motorists — including the Ridge Fire Department chief — to save him.

Mr. Slatton faces charges of driving while ability impaired by drugs, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, all misdemeanors, according to court officials.

Bail was originally set in Riverhead Town Justice court at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond but was reduced to $10,000 cash and then, after a Nov. 20 court appearance, reduced further to $1,000 cash or $2,000 bond, court officials said. Mr. Slatton posted bail that day, corrections officials said.

Mr. Cozzo said the drug detected in Mr. Slatton’s system was county-prescribed methadone to help Mr. Slatton in his treatment for heroin addiction. Due to the accident, Mr. Slatton is also facing charges in family court through Child Protective Services, Mr. Cozzo said, adding that a court-ordered drug test came back clean.

Mr. Cozzo said the defendant is “extremely remorseful” for what he says was an accident.

“The last thing [Mr. Slatton] was looking to do [was this],” Mr. Cozzo said. “He had no intentions of hurting anyone … This was an unfortunate accident that he was a part of, and it’s something he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life.”

Mr. Kane was a well-known and respected manager of safety engineering at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

He was also a competitive cyclist who raced with East End Cycle Team and had finished first in his age group in several events.

Neither Mr. Kane’s family nor the assistant district attorney could be reached for comment.

Mr. Slatton is due back in court Jan. 15, Mr. Cozzo said.

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11/02/12 12:55am
11/02/2012 12:55 AM

A 57-year-old Brightwaters man was killed Thursday while riding his bike along Route 25 in Calverton after he was struck by a motorist who was driving with a suspended license while high on drugs with his four children in the car, Riverhead Town police said.

William Slatton, 30, of Middle Island was headed west along Route 25 near Calverton National Cemetery in his 2005 Toyota Camry when he lost control of his car, veered into oncoming traffic and struck Steven F. Kane as he rode his bicycle east in the south shoulder.

Several witnesses to the crash and other passing motorists, including a Ridge fire chief, attempted to perform first aid to revive Mr. Kane, who was pronounced dead at the scene by a Wading River paramedic.

Mr. Slatton was arrested by Riverhead Police officers who said his for children — all under the age of nine — were in the car. He was also found to be high on drugs and driving with a suspended license, police said. A police press release did not say which drugs Mr. Slatton was under the influence of.

He was held overnight for a Friday morning arraignment.

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