SAYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Suffolk County police said Monday that drugs appeared to be involved in a fatal reckless driving incident in Sayville on Sunday afternoon.
Police said Thomas Herman, 46, of Patchogue, sped his black Chevrolet Trailblazer through Sayville’s business district around 5:15 p.m. Sunday, and plowed into seven cars.
As he traveled for about a mile along Main Street, Herman hit several cars, some parked, others in motion, according to police. He’s also accused of trying to drive between two cars traveling in opposite directions, police said.
“He’s been arrested and charged with driving while ability-impaired by drugs and leaving the scene of an incident. Further charges may be considered as this investigation continues,” Suffolk County Police spokeswoman Kerry Pecorino told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.
Witnesses said the driver of one of the cars allegedly hit by Herman pursued him while staying on the phone with police.
Sayville resident Howie Mannkopf said Herman was “weaving in and out of traffic, driving down the middle of the road.”
The Trailblazer made it to 290 W. Main St., where it clipped the back of a silver Honda Accord. It then slammed head-on into a red SUV with a couple inside.
Sam Longo, 82, of West Islip was driving the red SUV. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Friends of the retired great-grandfather gathered at his home to mourn his loss.
“Sam was one of the best guys I knew,” Longo’s friend, Hank Sarc, told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “Very good guy, we’re going to miss him.”
His friend, Ann Gilbert, 79, was in the passenger seat and was seriously injured in the crash.
She was taken to North Shore-LIJ Southside Hospital in Bayshore, where she is listed in critical condition, CBS 2’s Gusoff reported.
“She’s a very giving and lovely person. We all love her very much,” Gilbert’s friend Pearl Lehman told Gusoff.
Several others were also injured in the incident, including Herman.
He remained at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital with neck, face and internal injuries, which are considered non-life threatening, according to police.
“You can see the rate of speed he must have going, because the vehicle is 180 degrees turned, and it snapped the telephone pole,” Mannkopf said.
Police were checking nearby businesses for surveillance video to see if the trail of destruction was caught on tape.
Suffolk detectives are asking anyone who may have witnessed the incident to please contact them.
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