BRIDGEHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island man stood charged Wednesday night with tampering with a court-ordered device to prevent drunken driving, after he allegedly struck and killed famous cookbook author Anna Pump.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Pump, 81, was crossing Montauk Highway in Bridgehampton just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when police said she was struck. She was taken to Southampton Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.
Pump was spunky, brilliant and creative. She wrote four best-selling cookbooks and founded the Loaves and Fishes cookshops and the Bridgehampton Inn.
The driver — Luis Ortega, 40 – was accused by police of disabling his court-ordered interlock device to prevent drunken driving – just before the crash.
“Terrible,” said Ellen Burkett of Bridgehampton. “He has no right to do that. That’s is against the law. And then he kills somebody?”
“Lying and manipulation of these vehicles and of opportunities, and they get back on the road,” said Scott Robertson of Bridgehampton.
Police would not say how Ortega disabled the interlock device, which is often ordered by the court for drivers convicted of DWI.
“Ortega was charged with circumventing an interlock device on his vehicle, unlicensed operation, and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk,” said Southampton Town police Lt. James Kiernan.
Pump, a native of Tarp, Germany, moved to the U.S. after her wedding to embark on an illustrious career. She mastered her roles as wife and mother, businesswoman, benefactor, gourmet, teacher, and cookbook author of the acclaimed “Loaves and Fishes,” “Country Weekend Entertaining,” and “Summer on a Plate.”
Pump began her life as a chef after answering an ad to cook for Frank Camman’s family more than 40 years ago.
“Anna showed up, and she then used that experience to design every single thing that everybody has ever eaten out here since then,” Camman said.
At the Bridgehampton Museum, Executive Director John Eilertsen said the whole community is in shock.
“How could you not be when something like this happens, it’s really a shame,” he told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera.
Eilerstein said Pump had been generous to the museum, and very important to the community.
“She was a common sight,” Eilerstein said. “She was feisty, and alert, and bright, and energetic, and hardworking. And I think everybody just really admired her.”
He called Pump an institution who didn’t deserve to die in such a fashion.
“The first thought is for Anna and her family and then you start thinking about the criminal who did this,” he said. “A horrific crime, it’s just terrible.”
Residents hoped the tragic loss would serve as impetus to install lighting at crosswalks along Montauk Highway.
Ortega declined to comment on disabling the interlocking device. He will enter a not guilty plea at his court appearance next month.