By Victoria Espinoza
Northport resident and Communications Director for Suffolk County, Scott Martella, died over the weekend as a result of a three-car crash on the Long Island Expressway in Manorville.
Colleagues remembered the 29-year-old man as a devoted public servant with a continuing desire to make his community better.
Martella, 29, had worked for Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) since last June, after working as an aide for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office.
Bellone said he remembers his communications director as a leader who was always willing to help others.
“Scott Martella dedicated his all too brief life to public service and to helping others,” he said in a statement. “The hundreds of people Scott has worked with over the years and the thousands of people whose lives he has positively impacted would describe him as nothing short of an amazing person.”
“Long Island is a better place today because of his service and dedication to the community.”
— Andrew Cuomo
Bellone said he asked Martella to join his team because of his intelligence and love of community.
“I will miss Scott’s smile, his advice, his laugh, his sense of humor, his dedication and his drive,” he said.
Cuomo shared a similar sentiment regarding the Northport resident.
“Scott was a dedicated, beloved public servant who worked day in and day out to improve the lives of his fellow New Yorkers,” he said about Martella’s time working as an aide for New York. “Scott was always full of big ideas to help solve the toughest challenges of the day, and he was deeply respected for his strong work ethic, candor and fighting spirit. Long Island is a better place today because of his service and dedication to the community.”
Martella had a history of serving his community far earlier than working for Cuomo’s office. He was elected in 2009 as the youngest board member, at 22, for the Smithtown Central School District, and even served as vice president.
Theresa Knox served on the board with Martella in 2009, and said it was clear even then how successful he would be in life. She said despite his age, he was able to take his job very seriously — without taking himself too seriously.
“He could recently remember what it was like to be a student, so he understood just how these decisions would affect them,” she said. “He was always interested in learning, and he cared about the district so much. He was young, but he was really well suited [for being a member of the board].”
Knox said despite his maturity, there were still moments when he served where she saw him as another one of her kids — adding he was actually younger than her two oldest children.
“There were times when I could hear my own kids saying what he was saying,” she said. “But he was so mature, and you could tell he was going to have a fine career ahead of him.”
She said when he got the offer to work for Cuomo’s office, he saw it as an opportunity to be a clear advocate for the Smithtown community.
“He understood that this job was more than sitting behind a desk,” Knox said.
The Northport resident was named one of the winners of the 30 Under 30 Young Professionals award by the Huntington Chamber of Commerce in 2012.
In an Instagram post, the chamber said he was a “dedicated leader in various roles.”
Martella was driving a 2014 Honda with his fiancée Shelbi Thurau, 29, another Northport resident, when they were hit by a gray Subaru Outback while traveling west on the LIE towards Exit 68 at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21.
Carmelo Pinales, the driver of the Subaru, lost control of the vehicle, which crossed over the grassy median, went airborne and struck two vehicles, according to police. He was driving with Winnifer Garcia, 21, of Hempstead, his sister Patricia Pinales, his 10-year-old son Cristopher Pinales, and his sister’s 3-year-old daughter.
Aside from Martella’s car, Pinales also hit a BMW. Inside, were driver Marvin Tenzer, 73, and his three passengers, Sandra Tenzer, 69; Helen Adelson, 69; and Isidore Adelson, 81.
Pinales was pronounced dead at the scene, along with his sister and Martella. Thurau, Garcia and the Tenzers were transported to local hospitals and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Cristopher Pinales was pronounced dead at Stony Brook University Hospital after succumbing to his injuries later that day, police said, as well as Adelson. His wife Helen Adelson was pronounced dead on Monday at Stony Brook University Hospital.
This version correctly spells the first name of Carmelo Pinales’ 10-year-old son.