Real Estate Entrepreneur Killed in Thursday Crash

Montauk Highway in East Hampton Village was closed for nearly five hours Thursday as police investigated a head-on collision that killed a Sagaponack resident. David E. Rattray

Gregg Saunders, a real estate entrepreneur who lived in Sagaponack, was killed in a head-on crash with a 2010 Audi station wagon that swerved into his lane on Montauk Highway, just east of Cove Hollow Road, shortly before noon Thursday.

East Hampton Village police said that Mr. Saunders, 55, was driving a 2012 Prius in the eastbound lane when a westbound Audi driven by Benjamin Rechler, 19, of Brookville, suddenly swerved into his path. According to East Hampton Village Police Chief Gerard Larsen, Mr. Rechler had reached into the rear of the Audi to adjust a surfboard that had shifted.

Firefighters from the East Hampton Fire Department's heavy rescue team had to cut Mr. Saunders' Prius open to allow medical workers to get to him. He was quickly transferred into an Amagansett ambulance and rushed to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.

Mr. Rechler and his passenger, Taylor Frank, 17, also of Brookville, suffered minor injuries and were taken in an East Hampton ambulance to Southampton Hospital, where they were treated and released, police said.

Two other vehicles collided when their drivers tried to avoid the crash in which Mr. Saunders was killed. A westbound van had braked suddenly to avoid the collision and was struck from behind by another car. The drivers and passengers of these vehicles were uninjured.

Mr. Saunders had been lauded earlier this year by the East Hampton Town Planning Board for his work on a 17,500-square-foot "hub" store that was scheduled to begin construction this fall on a Wainscott site occupied by a temporary Whole Foods market.

"It was an unfortunate accident," Chief Larsen said Friday. "The police, the ambulance crews, and the fire department did everything they could to save him."

The chief stressed that there was no alcohol or drugs involved and that no criminal charges have been filed.

Mr. Rechler was issued summonses for crossing over the double yellow line and failure to maintain his lane.
 


Comments

HOW SAD... IT ONLY GOES TO SHOW WE ALL NEED TO PAY ATTENTION! LIVE EACH MOMENT AS IF IT WERE OUR LAST... MY PRAYERS GO TO MR SAUNDERS FAMILY AND FRIENDS... HOW SAD AND AVOIDABLE!!! WE ALL WORRY ABOUT CELL PHONES!!!
Why is 'adjusting a surfboard' any different than texting or careless driving!? The second tragedy in this is that the driver will walk away with no charges whatsoever.
Seriously, this 19 year-old driver should be charged criminally. It was serious negligence on his part that he decided to pay attention to his shifting surfboard vs. oncoming traffic. And why didn'this passenger adjust the surfboard? Surely, she/he would have been the better choice to fiddle with the cargo. What a crying shame that this man should lose his life because of these two nitwits. At the very least, they should be sent to remedial Driver's Ed. Anonymous Clifton, NJ
Really? This is surely a tragedy but must we always find the need for blame? As hard as it is to admit to yourselves, this is something that we have all done once or twice in our lives. the difference is that when you did it there wasn't an oncoming car across the road. I am sorry for Mr Saunders and his family but ACCIDENTS do happen. That's why they're called accidents.