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Long Island Expressway

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Suffolk County Police arrested a Smithtown man on Friday morning for driving without an interlock device and without a license after he was pulled over for speeding on the Long Island Expressway in Farmingville.

Highway Patrol Bureau Police Officer Howard Dwyer, who was on patrol as part of the Selective Intensified Traffic Enforcement team, was driving on the west Long Island Expressway, east of exit 62, when he saw a Anthony Cook, 30,  in a 2008 Chevrolet drive past his vehicle at a high rate of speed without break lights at about 8 a.m.

Officer Dwyer pulled the vehicle over and it was later determined Cook’s license had been revoked seven times. The driver was charged with operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device, second-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle for failure to pay child support and was issued several summonses including one for speeding.

Cook, a Smithtown resident was released on bail, according to police.

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Richard Clinton mugshot from SCPD

A robbery suspect allegedly ripped a woman out of her car while she was stopped at a traffic light Tuesday morning.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the woman was driving to work and had exited the Long Island Expressway at exit 56 shortly before 9 a.m. She was waiting at a red light at the north service road’s intersection with Route 111 in Hauppauge when a man who was walking in the roadway opened the car’s front passenger door and got inside. Police said the woman tried to fight off the robber as he stole her belongings.

From there, police allege the man got out of the car, walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door, forcibly removed the victim from the car and dragged her onto the pavement. He allegedly got into the driver’s seat and took more of her property, as she again fought him.

Police said the suspect ran away as other people started to approach the car to aid the victim.

Officers searched the area and broadcasted a description of the suspect, police said, and about 10 minutes later found suspect Richard Clinton a short distance away, at Route 111 and Motor Parkway.

Clinton, a 34-year-old whose last known address was in Medford, was arrested and treated at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore “for the effects of narcotic drug use,” police said. He is charged with second-degree robbery, resisting arrest and three counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.

Attorney information for the suspect was not available. According to police, Clinton will be arraigned at a later date.

Anyone who may have witnessed the alleged robbery is asked to contact detectives from the SCPD’s 4th Squad at 631-854-8452.

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Local politicians and Huntington Town residents have successfully lobbied the state Department of Transportation to halt construction of a rest stop on exit 51 of the Long Island Expressway.

Individuals were up in arms over the proposal, and lawmakers expressed their dissatisfaction about the plans. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) said it’s an unacceptable location for a rest stop and said the rest stop itself is unnecessary.

“It backs a residential area,” Stern said in a phone interview. “Unlike other rest stops or centers, where they carry on commercial activity, on the LIE, here all the exits are about a mile apart. There is an ample supply of restaurants, shopping centers and restrooms at every exit, so there is no need for a separate rest stop at this location.”

Stern said the plan calls for featuring the state’s Taste NY program, designed to promote New York’s agriculture vendors. This particular Taste NY would serve as a gateway for Long Island wine country out east, according to Stern.

“This exit is a long way from being a gateway to the East End,” Stern said about why this exit choice doesn’t make sense to promote Taste NY.

According to Stern, Suffolk County has made an offer to work with New York State to create a Taste NY location off exit 67 in Yaphank, which Stern said is a more appropriate location.

Gary Holmes, director of communications for the state’s Department of Transportation, said no work is currently being done at exit 51.

“The commissioner has held several productive meetings with local and state officials on Long Island, and while no decisions have been made about the rest stop at exit 51, we look forward to continued conversations about the health and safety of all users of the LIE,” Holmes said in an email. “LIE motorists deserve a safe place to rest and we’ll keep working on the best way to do that.”

Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) said the rest stop should not be added, and that she started fighting plans for it 15 years ago.

“I led the charge against this rest stop when I was vice president of the House Beautiful Dix Hills Civic Association,” Berland said in a phone interview. “I have always been opposed to this.”

She also said the Taste NY aspect is inappropriate, and that the state should not be selling alcohol on an expressway: “The last thing you want to do is give people the opportunity to get alcohol there.”

Berland said the rest stop is too close to a residential community, and the construction the state’s done so far was done without permission. She said residents are already being impacted by the sound of the LIE because brush berms have been removed.

Assemblyman Chad A. Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) agreed that the rest stop is disruptive to residential life near exit 51.

“The location is poor because of the noise and the secondary effects it will have to the area and the residents,” Lupinacci said in a phone interview. “I am totally against it.”

Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport) agreed with his colleagues that the rest stop should not go up, and that the voices of Huntington are not being heard.

“It doesn’t sound like the Town of Huntington was involved in this decision,” Spencer said in a phone interview. “I always think coordination and communication with the community is key.”

A Middle Country man may have been unwell on Wednesday when his pickup truck crashed into the center median on the Long Island Expressway, before he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The Suffolk County Police Department said the 63-year-old Coram man, David Hutchings, was driving a 2005 GMC east near exit 63 in Holtsville at about 1:15 p.m. when he collided with the median near the carpool lane. The pickup came to a stop after the crash.

According to police, officers and rescue personnel arrived to find Hutchings unconscious behind the wheel. The Holtsville Fire Department ambulance brought him to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said detectives from the SCPD’s 6th Squad, who are investigating the incident, believe Hutchings experienced a medical emergency, causing the fatal one-car crash.

The pickup was impounded for safety checks.

Stephen Ruth mugshot from the SCPD

Police arrested a Centereach man on Tuesday afternoon who they say used a pole to turn red light cameras away from the road and potential violators.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the suspect used an expandable pole to tamper with the cameras, pushing the lenses toward the sky. Officers from the SCPD’s 6th Precinct Crime Section received anonymous tips regarding a video post on social media that allegedly shows 42-year-old Stephen Ruth tampering with several of the cameras in Ronkonkoma, including one on Ocean Avenue at the Long Island Expressway’s south service road on both Aug. 21 and Aug. 24. Shortly before being arrested on Tuesday afternoon, he also allegedly tampered with two other cameras on that same service road, at the intersection with Hawkins Avenue.

After an investigation, officers arrested Ruth at his home on Stewart Circle.

He was charged with four counts of third-degree criminal tampering and four counts of second-degree obstruction of governmental administration.

Attorney information for Ruth was not immediately available on Wednesday.

The red light cameras, which are maintained by Baltimore-based Affiliated Computer Services Incorporated, take photographs at busy intersections throughout Suffolk County, recording license plates of vehicles whose drivers run through a red light or do not come to a complete stop before making a right turn on a red signal. The company reviews the photos snapped — and gets final approval from the county — and for each confirmed violation, the registered owner of the vehicle receives a $50 traffic citation.

Suffolk’s red light camera program began in summer 2010, and signs alert approaching drivers at every intersection where there is a camera.

Unlike other moving violations, red light camera violations do not add points to a driver’s license, as the cameras only record rear license plates and cannot confirm the driver of a violating vehicle.

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A routine speeding stop in Huntington yielded much greater results over the holiday weekend when Suffolk County police arrested Bayshore man Mohamed Khan for driving while intoxicated, among other charges, authorities said.

Suffolk County Police Highway Patrol Officer Robert Scudellari initially flashed his lights behind Khan, 42, for speeding on the eastbound Long Island Expressway between exits 51 and 52 around 1:50 a.m. on July 3, police said. The officer soon learned that Khan, who was driving a 2013 Kia, was also under the influence of alcohol and his license had been revoked, the Suffolk County Police Department said.

Mohamed Khan is accused of driving while intoxicated, among other charges. Photo from SCPD
Mohamed Khan is accused of driving while intoxicated, among other charges. Photo from SCPD

Police also said the man was in violation of his New York State driver’s license restriction that he operate a motor vehicle only if it is equipped with an ignition interlock device, cops said.

Khan was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle without an interlock device, police said. He was also charged with criminal contempt in the second degree for violating a court order that stipulated he refrain from consuming alcohol, cops said.

The Suffolk County Police Department also said the man had an outstanding warrant for committing the same offence back in January, and had collected seven traffic tickets for vehicle and traffic law violations by the time of his arrest.

His attorney could not be reached for comment.

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A pedestrian was killed in a crash with a federal vehicle while walking along the highway on Wednesday night.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the man had been walking west on the Long Island Expressway, west of Exit 49 for Route 110 in Melville, at 10:30 p.m. when a U.S. Postal Service tractor trailer hit him.

After notifying his family, police later identified the pedestrian as 52-year-old Melville resident Stephen Puleo.

The truck’s driver, Northport resident Russell A. Davenport, 62, was not hurt, remained at the scene and attempted to assist Puleo.

A physician assistant from the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office pronounced Puleo dead at the scene.

Police also performed a safety check on the vehicle at the scene.

Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call the SCPD’s 2nd Squad, whose detectives are investigating the case, at 631-854-8252. All calls will remain confidential.

A Long Island woman was charged with drunk driving after she allegedly clipped a police officer with her car on Tuesday afternoon and fled the scene.

According to the Suffolk County Police Department, the police officer, Dennis Hendrickson, was standing on the shoulder of the Long Island Expressway in Hauppauge, west of exit 56, to assist with traffic control after a crash that closed all westbound lanes. At 2:10 p.m., police said, a 2012 Volkswagen rapidly approached Hendrickson, who signaled to the driver to slow down.

Police allege that the driver, 52-year-old Theresa Finnin-Hunt, disregarded those signals and struck Hendrickson on his right arm and hand as he tried to move out of the way. The suspect allegedly did not stop, continuing west on the LIE shoulder before she was stopped on the highway’s north service road in Brentwood, near Wicks Road, shortly afterward.

Finnin-Hunt, a Sea Cliff resident, was arrested and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident with personal injury, third-degree unlawful fleeing of a police officer and reckless driving.

Attorney information for the defendant was not immediately available. She was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday.

Police said Hendrickson, a member of the SCPD’s 4th Precinct Community Support Unit, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Stony Brook University Hospital.