The man East Hampton Village Police charged with drunken driving following a crash Sunday afternoon that left his three passengers in critical condition was arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court Tuesday and later released from police headquarters after his wife posted $10,000 bail.
His head bowed, dressed in a blue hospital gown, Jungsik Lee, 60, of Elmhurst propped himself up on crutches. Though his right knee was wrapped in what appeared to be a soft cast, he declined an offer to be seated during the arraignment.
"I want to advise both the people and the defense attorney that I was present at the scene of the accident," East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky said as he began the proceedings. Justice Tekulsky is a longtime volunteer with the East Hampton Fire Department's heavy rescue squad. "However, when I arrived, the defendant was not in the car. I did participate in cutting the passenger out from the rear door," he said, explaining that he remained impartial as to the criminal case before him.
Two of the passengers had been flown to Stony Brook University Hospital after the crash, while the third was taken to Southampton Hospital with Mr. Lee, but was transferred to Stony Brook when his condition worsened.
Mr. Lee told Justice Tekulsky that he had come to Montauk to go fishing Sunday morning with his three friends. Mr. Lee, who appeared shaken, spoke in broken English.
Rob Archer, an assistant district attorney, asked bail to be set at $10,000, pointing out the possibility of additional charges being added, given the severity of the injuries to the passengers in the car. Justice Tekulsky agreed on the bail amount, with a caveat: "I would suggest the D.A.'s office should upgrade the charges as soon as possible," if that is its inclination. The Suffolk County Vehicular Crimes unit has been in constant contact with the East Hampton Village police detectives handling the case since Sunday afternoon.
Mr. Lee consented to have his blood drawn in order to test his blood alcohol content. According to Justice Tekulsky, that number came back as .11 of 1 percent. A reading of .08 or higher triggers a driving while intoxicated charge.
Mr. Lee's wife was seated in the courtroom, along with a family friend. The wife spoke no English. When told what the bail amount was, she went to the side courtroom, where she counted out $10,000 from her handbag, with two clerks each counting the stack of $100 bills before filling out a receipt. In the meantime, Mr. Lee had been taken back to police headquarters. The friend, who identified himself only as Mr. Han, said Mr. Lee was an occasional drinker who would drink only two or three beers.
With the bail paid, Ms. Lee took the receipt and, along with Mr. Han, drove to police headquarters, from where Mr. Lee was released. The three then began the long drive back to Elmhurst.