East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen called it “reckless indifference” to human life after two drivers, one of them reportedly high on drugs, wound up in the hospital Friday morning.
Southampton Town police began receiving 911 calls reporting a 1990 Oldsmobile, headed east in Water Mill at a high speed, dodging in and out of traffic. Within minutes, the speeding car was reported in Wainscott, driving onto the center strip, then onto the shoulder, narrowly missing several vehicles as it went.
Jane Bimson of Montauk was headed west at the time. “The car swerved into my lane at an absolutely high rate of speed,” she said yesterday, forcing her and the car behind her to swerve onto the shoulder. Just east of the East Hampton Tennis Club, on one of the sharpest curves on the highway, the driver of the Oldsmobile, Melanie S. Burkel, 39, of Southampton, reportedly pulled out and crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic in an attempt to pass a tractor-trailer truck in front of her.
She almost made it, but not quite. The Olds slammed into a westbound Lexus driven by Paul A. Henneforth Jr. of Southampton.
“She struck the Lexus head-on, hit the side of the tractor-trailer, then careened off the road,” Chief Larsen said, winding up against a telephone pole. Village police, including the chief, found the woman delirious, apparently on drugs. “She had no idea of where she was going,” Chief Larsen said.
Both drivers were taken to Southampton Hospital, though not before Ms. Burkel was charged with D.W.A.I., driving while ability impaired by drugs, a misdemeanor. En route, she consented to a blood test. She was additionally charged with reckless endangerment, a felony; reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and nine moving violations. She will be arraigned on Nov. 29 in East Hampton Justice Court.
Mr. Henneforth was treated at the hospital for a fractured left ankle.
Guido L. Tapia was charged the day before Hurricane Sandy with driving while intoxicated, as well as driving without a license, following a collision on Cedar Street in East Hampton. Two days after the storm passed, Mr. Tapia, 41, of East Hampton, was again arrested on the same two counts, opening the potential for more serious charges.
Both arrests occurred in the same driveway on Three Mile Harbor Road. On the afternoon of Oct. 28, Mr. Tapia was arrested after an officer, investigating a report of a two-car accident in which both drivers left the scene, came upon Mr. Tapia in his driveway; the arrest followed. On Halloween evening, an officer parked on Springs-Fireplace Road near Abraham’s Path, watching traffic, pulled out to follow a northbound Pontiac with a burnt-out headlight. Instead of pulling over, the report says, the Pontiac accelerated, turning onto Abraham’s Path with the squad car in pursuit. The Pontiac reportedly ran a stop sign at Three Mile Harbor Road, turning left and winding up in the same driveway as before.
Mr. Tapia allegedly failed all the standard roadside sobriety tests before being arrested. Once at the station house, he was given the Intoxilyzer 5000 breath test, with a reported result of .22, just under three times the legal limit. It was the exact number recorded after his previous arrest, police said, and resulted in the charge being raised to aggravated D.W.I.
While at headquarters Mr. Tapia complained of difficulty breathing. He was taken to Southampton Hospital, where he was treated and released back to the police, who returned him to headquarters. Bail was set the next morning at $5,000, which was posted. The County District Attorney’s office is reportedly looking into the implications of Mr. Tapia’s second arrest.
Burnt-out taillights resulted in another charge of aggravated D.W.I. at 1 a.m. on Sunday. Town police said Ismael C. Penafiel, 25, of East Hampton was seen driving a 2006 Toyota with no operating taillights, swerving back and forth on Windmill Lane in Amagansett. He was stopped near Schellinger Road and failed roadside sobriety tests, said an officer, performing at least one test while clutching the side of the car with one hand. Back at headquarters, his blood-alcohol content was recorded as .19.
Mr. Penafiel was held for the remainder of the night. Bail was set in the morning at $350, which was posted.
An accident on Napeague near Dolphin Drive, a little before midnight on Oct. 26, resulted in a charge of drunken driving against Gregory A. Mansley, 66, of Amagansett. An officer was dispatched following a call from a motorist who had been headed east at the time. According to the report, the motorist told the police that Mr. Mansley’s westbound Acura had veered across the road on a curve, crashing into a light pole.
The car rolled over, trapping Mr. Mansley inside, the report says. The Amagansett Fire Department responded immediately, freeing the man, who had several bad cuts, which created an obstacle for the police in obtaining the necessary blood work. He was taken to Southampton Hospital and then helicoptered to Stony Brook for treatment.
An officer stayed with him throughout, as is legal protocol in D.W.I. arrests. Because of the seriousness of his injuries, Mr. Mansley was unable to consent to a blood test until shortly before 2 a.m. A technician did not arrive to draw blood until almost 3 a.m., meaning over three hours had gone by since the crash.
Mr. Mansley was released to the hospital and is expected in court this morning for arraignment.