An Amagansett man escaped with injuries that were not life-threatening after a Friday crash on the Napeague stretch of the Montauk Highway in which his truck flipped on its side.
East Hampton Town police reported that the injured man, Gustavo Torres, the superintendent of the Windward Shores Ocean Resort on Napeague, told them a man driving a tan Toyota Tundra pickup passed him in a no-passing zone, then suddenly slammed on the brakes. According to Mr. Torres, he was forced to choose between veering toward Cyril’s Fish House, which was crowded with its usual roadside bar patrons, or the right shoulder.
On Monday and again Wednesday, during conversations with The East Hampton Star, Mr. Torres described his injuries as moderate, and he said pain was preventing him from resuming work. He said that his breathing had been difficult since the accident, which sent him to the emergency room at Southampton Hospital.
Mr. Torres said that his 1995 Mitsubishi Montero had rolled onto the driver’s side when its wheels left the paved shoulder and reached roadside grass. He was pulled from the vehicle’s passenger-side door by a man who arrived moments later.
He described what happened in a Monday conversation: “After my job, I was going to the Montauk I.G.A. I got to the highway. There was not traffic. I pulled out and was going 45, 50 miles per hour. I was in no rush.”
Going on, Mr. Torres said he had seen the pickup “come up fast.” He alleged that the driver “tried to hit me in back. He came too close a couple of times. I thought he was drunk or something.”
“I put my blinker on to the right to let him pass. He passed me and stopped completely. I saw his brake lights. I tried to avoid a collision. I pushed my brakes. I saw the smoke coming out of my tires. I was going side to side. I thought I was going to die.”
Police reported that the man who Mr. Torres alleged caused the accident turned out to be Mark E. Dombrowski, 55, of Montauk. They ticketed him with passing in a no-passing zone, a traffic violation. East Hampton Town Police Detective Lt. Chris Anderson said yesterday that police were continuing to look into the matter.
Detective Anderson said that in giving police a statement at the scene of the accident, Mr. Torres had not mentioned his belief that he was intentionally cut off by Mr. Dombrowski. Mr. Torres said police had spoken with him again this week.
Mr. Dombrowski, a retired New York City firefighter, had been charged in 2005 — and then cleared — of third-degree assault as a hate crime, a felony, following a roadside struggle after he allegedly forced a Latino man, Luis Ochoa, also of Montauk off the road. Had Mr. Dombrowski been convicted he could have faced a maximum four-year jail term.
The charges were dropped, however, when Mr. Ochoa’s injuries were deemed insufficient for the assault charge by the Suffolk district attorney’s office. Conviction would have required a sustained physical injury, which had not occurred. It was reported in news accounts from the time that in advance of his court appearance, Mr. Dombrowski, of his own accord, attended anger management sessions and an anti-bias class.
Mr. Dombrowski referred requests for comment to his lawyer, Gordon Ryan of Amagansett, who had no comment.
Rightly or wrongly, Mr. Torres believes malice was to blame, and said he has retained legal counsel.
Mr. Torres said that it was his opinion that “When somebody does something like that, he’s trying to kill somebody. I have plenty of years driving, trust me.”
Mr. Torres said he was a safe driver and said he was happy living on the South Fork.
“I really enjoy the area. I clean the beach in front of the resort. I call in when I see seals that need help on the beach. I really love this area. I have a 10-year-old daughter. Thank God she was with her mother at that time.”