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Harley Davidson

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Suffolk County Police 5th Squad detectives are investigating a crash that killed a motorcyclist in Ronkonkoma Sept. 15.

Richard Schmansky was traveling southbound on Smithtown Avenue near 2nd Street when his 2014 Harley Davidson motorcycle collided with a 2001 Nissan Altima that was also traveling southbound at approximately 7:50 p.m.

Schmansky, 58, of Centereach, was transported to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Nissan, Jamese Chetuck, 22, of Coram, remained at the scene and was uninjured.

Both vehicles were impounded for a safety check. The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information on this crash is asked to contact the 5th Squad at 631-854-8552.

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Suffolk County Police have arrested a man for driving while intoxicated after he was involved in a crash that killed a motorcyclist in Selden April 29.

Christopher Vorisek was riding a 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle southbound on College Road when his vehicle struck a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee traveling northbound, making a left to turn onto Palm Street at 1:09 a.m.

Vorisek, 52, of Farmingville, was transported by Selden Fire Department to Stony Brook University Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the Jeep, Francis Quinn, 59, of Selden, was not injured.

Quinn was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. He was held overnight at the 6th Precinct and was scheduled for arraignment at First District Court.

Both vehicles were impounded for safety checks and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555.

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Bikers rev up holiday cheer for children at Wading River campus

Santa Claus swapped his signature red hat for a black helmet and led hundreds of bikers from Babylon Town Hall to Wading River Dec. 4 to kickstart the holiday season for children and young adults in need.

For the past 30 years, the staff members and young residents at Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York have welcomed the Long Island Harley Owners Group to their Wading River campus for what has become Long Island’s oldest toy run.

The group bands together with other motorcycle clubs across Long Island to deliver gifts to the children of the not-for-profit charity organization. Little Flower, founded in 1929, provides programs and services to children, families and adults with behavioral and developmental disabilities living in the area, and offers residential services and compassionate alternatives to state-run institutions.

“I’m very thankful,” said Russell, 15, of Syosset. “They come out and they use their time, and play with us and do different things with us on their own time when they could be sitting at home.”

There are approximately 100 students between the ages 10 and 21 living on the Little Flower campus in cottage-style homes. Most of them are there primarily for educational purposes. The students are special education children with a variety of challenges who are referred to the organization by local school districts.

They struggle with mental, developmental and behavioral problems, but because the student body at Little Flower is relatively small, there’s more of a hands-on approach to catering to their individual needs.

“I’m very thankful. They come out and they use their time, and play with us and do different things with us on their own time…”


Corinne Hammons, CEO of Little Flower, said the organization strives to help and embrace the kids as they are. She said often students come from tough circumstances and have challenges that can’t be helped at home or in local schools. She said she’s very proud to partner with the Harley group and have its longstanding support.

“We don’t take this partnership for granted at all; every year they could choose any charity and they keep choosing us, and we’re very grateful,” Hammons said. “The idea of them coming to us wanting to give is very meaningful for the kids, who sure look forward to it each year.”

While the Harley Owners Group is involved with several charities throughout the year — including veteran fundraisers — members of the group consider this particular event the one they look forward to most all year. It’s also the only event that non-Harley-Davidson owners can join.

Bob Brinka, director of the Long Island Harley Owners Group, said what keeps the group coming back year after year are the smiles on the children’s faces.

“Doing this for kids that don’t have a lot is really important to us … this is the one that’s most dear to our hearts,” Brinka said. “We look forward to making people’s lives a lot nicer and giving the kids something they don’t have. Because we have, we can give.”

He said this year the group had 276 registered motorcycles for the ride plus another 30 that joined them along their route.

Those at Little Flower watched in glee as bikers arrived in traditional fashion to the campus. The parade of Christmas-decorated bikes roared down a long driveway, each one equipped with a pile of gifts all donated by members. They brought everything from giant stuffed teddy bears to skateboards and remote control cars.

Maureen Fox, vice president of external relations for Little Flower, said for the kids, the event is all about the “spectacle” of seeing the bikers arrive.

“Doing this for kids that don’t have a lot is really important to us … this is the one that’s most dear to our hearts”

—Bob Brinka

The event went inside to the gym on campus, where children were excited to hop on stage and meet with Santa, played by Harley Owners Group member Nick Klopsis, and choose from the big pile of gifts. Chili and drinks were available, as well as holiday-themed entertainment. Some members joined children on stage to perform impromptu choir bell renditions of Christmas songs.

Thom Kister, a 12-year Harley Owners Group member, pointed out a beaming girl carrying a teddy bear off the stage and said he bought the gift three months prior to the event.

“It’s all about the kids and seeing their faces on the stage,” Kister said. “And when we do the precession, coming up, just having everybody out there waving really fills you up and makes you feel good. This is so different from everything else we do because it’s open to all the biking community. We love it and we love doing it.”

Chris Evel, a member of 30 years, echoed Kister’s sentiment.

“Nobody helps the community like the bikers,” he said. “Whatever [the kids] need, that’s what we’re here for. It could be anywhere on Long Island — we’ll be there to help.”

According to Fox, before the bikers hop back on their motorcycles and hit the road, some of them deliver gifts directly to the developmentally disabled residents on campus who are unable to get to the gym.

Alex, 16, of Bellmore, said not just the event, but the entire month of December is special for him and the rest of the children at Little Flower.

“It’s a nice thing that [the Harley Owners Group] does because it’s all volunteer … they didn’t have to come here,” he said. “This month is probably the best month for everybody here because we had the Christmas tree lighting a few days ago, and then next week we have a party, so all the kids are happy that we’re doing this.”

Those visiting the exhibit can hop on this Harley and inside its sidecar for an interactive 'ride.' Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

For as long as they’ve been around, motorcycles and their riders have encapsulated the American spirit. Beyond the fact that anybody straddling a chrome-plated hog immediately becomes unanimous with “cool,” the motorcycle has always represented independence, escape, toughness, rebellion and freedom. Unlike drivers encased in their cars, bikers glide down the open road with a ferocious and liberating intimacy with themselves and all that surrounds them, surveying the world in a constant state of high-speed danger and adrenaline all at once. The ultimate thrill seekers, the motorcycling community is certainly a breed apart from the rest. And they’ve helped shape American culture as a result.

Whether it was Steve McQueen jumping over barbed wire fence on his iconic Triumph TR6 Trophy in “The Great Escape” or Peter Fonda cruising on his “Captain America” Harley Davidson in “Easy Rider,” the allure of hopping on a chopper and putting the pedal to the metal has sustained generations.

The times may have changed and the bikes might look different, but motorcycle culture is still alive and well and is currently being celebrated in Stony Brook Village.

The rare 1911 Harley Davidson is one of the oldest bikes on display at the Motorcycles and the Open Road exhibit. Photo by Kevin Redding
The rare 1911 Harley Davidson is one of the oldest bikes on display at the Motorcycles and the Open Road exhibit. Photo by Kevin Redding

Devoted bikers and nonbikers alike can go explore Motorcycles and the Open Road, a summer exhibit that will run through Sept. 5 at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Educational & Cultural Center. Building on the success of its two previous motorcycle exhibits, the center offers over 50 bikes on display and will contain a completely different batch than the ones seen last year, with the exception of a crowd-pleasing 1911 Harley Davidson.

Visitors will be treated to a wide variety of motorcycles throughout history — ranging from 1904 to 1997 — as well as iconic artwork by David Uhl, bronze sculptures by Jeff Decker and vintage memorabilia like helmets and signs.

The earliest bikes on display are a 1904 Rambler courtesy of Jim Giorgio, which looks like a regular bicycle with a motor attached, and a 1907 Indian, which once belonged to Henry Wing Sr., one of the founders of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. This particular bike is known for its “camelback” look.

“[The motorcycles] are very artistic, and there’s a lot of historical importance between different decades and different manufacturers,” said Stephanie Ruales, special events coordinator for the center. “Older generations obviously love seeing them because it reminds them of something they maybe grew up with. And the younger kids … can’t really deny that the bikes are just cool to look at. I think when you start in the early 1900s and see what they were and what they evolved into, older and younger generations can appreciate them,” she added.

As visitors continue through the gallery, they will notice the aesthetic evolution of the motorcycles. Heading into the ’30s and ’40s, manufacturers bulked up the bikes, spruced up the designs and started engineering the motorcycles for what the public may have wanted at that specific time. Motorcycle brands were, and still are, constantly changing year to year due to ever-evolving styles, so it’s fascinating to see the gradual change over the course of the 20th century.

Among the most noteworthy bikes on display are a 1931 Indian Four, which is a rare Depression-era motorcycle that scored a 97 out of 100 at its judging at the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, making it quite the elite ride; a 1934 Harley Davidson, which was featured at Harley’s factory in Milwaukee in 2003 for its 100th anniversary; and a 1950 BMW R51/2, which came in the aftermath of Germany’s ban on producing motorcycles of any sort post-World War II. Even though the ban was ultimately lifted, all of their designs, blueprints and schematic drawings were gone and they had to start from scratch, left to use surviving prewar parts to build a new bike.

Aside from Suzukis and Ducatis, fans of newer designs will enjoy the 1982 Honda CX500 Turbo, which looks like something straight out of a sci-fi film. “[All of the motorcycles] come from Long Island. They all come from different Long Island collectors and private owners. We also have a dealership that was very gracious to loan us some of their bikes as well. And people are very enthusiastic about putting their motorcycles on display for everyone to appreciate,” said Ruales.

One of the more unique displays is the “Precious Metal,” a custom motorcycle made by Copper Mike from Lindenhurst and chosen by Lady Gaga to be onstage at her “Born This Way” album release at Union Square in 2011.

Visitors can also take part in a virtual ride of sorts, when they sit down on an old Harley and inside its sidecar and cruise past the rolling hills of Ireland, which is projected on the screen in front of them.

Not being a motorcycle enthusiast is no reason to skip this exhibit. “We get people that come in and say they don’t know anything about the motorcycles … and they come through and find something they can appreciate,” said Ruales.

The Ward Melville Heritage Organization will present Motorcycles and the Open Road now through Sept. 5 at its Educational & Cultural Center, 97P Main Street, Stony Brook. The exhibit, partially sponsored by Astoria Bank, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, and $3 for children under 12. For a full schedule of exhibit events, call 631-689-5888, or visit www.wmho.org.