07/29/15 11:47pm

Friends and family of the victims in last week's fatal limousine crash gather at Smithtown West High School Wednesday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Four pink-and-white bouquets, held together with bows and sashes displaying the names of four friends, adorned the stage at Smithtown High School West’s football field last Wednesday night.

Between the bouquets were poster-sized images of the young women who were killed July 19 in a limousine crash in Cutchogue: Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack.

As friends and family gathered for the candlelight vigil, many shared poems, prayers and songs of hope.

Then four white balloons were released, one at a time, in memory of the victims.

During the ceremony, a friend read a statement on behalf of Ms. Grabina’s family that described her as a loving person who acted as a role model for youth.

“We loved her more than words can express,” the statement read. “As her parents, our lives will never be the same.”

Ms. Belli’s family thanked the people who attended the vigil and said Stephanie will always remain in their hearts.

“I want to express from her that she thanks you,” one woman told the crowd. “She loves you and is hugging each one of you at this very moment.

A truck parked outside Wednesday's vigil featuring the names of the four victims. (Credit: Jen Nuzxo)

A truck parked outside Wednesday’s vigil featuring the names of the four victims. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

A family member of Ms. Baruch said she’ll never be forgotten.

“She was truly a special person that touched the lives of many,” he said. “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”

Smithtown parent Liz Scarpa-Lauro addressed the crowd at the start of the ceremony, saying she helped organize the event in order to honor the victims.

“We came together as a community to support the families — to show them we’re here for you,” she said.

Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, who attended Wednesday’s vigil, described it as moving.

“We were just as deeply touched as everybody,” he said. “We just wanted to show our condolences and let them know that we care.”

Peconic resident Steven Romeo, 55, was driving a pickup truck westbound on Route 48 when he struck the limousine as the driver was making a U-turn at the Depot Lane intersection. Four additional limo passengers were hospitalized following the crash, as were the two drivers. The eight friends had hired the limousine to take them wine and vodka tasting on the North Fork, prosecutors said.

 

Mr. Romeo, who District Attorney Thomas Spota has said had a blood alcohol content below the legal limit when he submitted to a blood test nearly two hours after the crash, has been charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. He is due back in court Sept. 18.

Caption: Friends and family of the victims in last week’s fatal limousine crash gather at Smithtown West High School Wednesday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled one of the crash victims’ names.

jnuzzo@timesreview.com

07/13/15 4:13pm
(Credit: Pileski family)

Benjamin Pileski. (Credit: Pileski family)

Benjamin Pileski, the 20-year-old Mattituck High School graduate who was critically injured July 5 after being struck by a taxi while crossing the street in Montauk, has awoken from a coma.

His father, Thomas Pileski, confirmed in an interview Monday his son awoke from the medically-induced coma Sunday night. He is recovering at Stony Brook University Hospital. (more…)

07/12/15 6:00am
New Suffolk herbalist Heather Cusack trims herbs last Thursday in a garden at Peconic Land Trust in Cutchogue. Ms. Cusack, who is currently leading community workshops about herbs, says the plants are useful for more than just cooking. (Credit: Rachel  Young photos)

New Suffolk herbalist Heather Cusack trims herbs last Thursday in a garden at Peconic Land Trust in Cutchogue. Ms. Cusack, who is currently leading community workshops about herbs, says the plants are useful for more than just cooking. (Credit: Rachel Young photos)

Herbs are for more than just sprinkling into a pot of bubbling tomato sauce.

Yes, they “smell and taste delicious,” said New Suffolk herbalist Heather Cusack, but these plants, many of which are now in bloom, can just as easily be used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes.

“They can be used for so many things,” said Ms. Cusack, who owns Heather’s Herbals. “They aren’t pharmaceutical and they’re really simple and have been used for thousands of years.”

(more…)

From left, Doug Cooper, Jeff Smith, Laura Jens-Smith and Jerry Diffley. Ms. Jens-Smith was elected president at Thursday's Mattituck school board meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

From left, Doug Cooper, Jeff Smith, Laura Jens-Smith and Jerry Diffley. Ms. Jens-Smith was elected president at Thursday’s Mattituck school board meeting. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

The Mattituck school board has elected Laura Jens-Smith as its new president and long-time president Jerry Diffley is leaving after serving on the board for 16 years.

(more…)

07/09/15 7:21pm
(Credit: Pileski family)

(Credit: Pileski family)

As Benjamin Pileski remains in critical condition after being struck by a taxi on Sunday while crossing the street in Montauk, there are many people volunteering to help make things easier for his family.

His glasses will be replaced, his goldfish will be fed and he’ll be welcomed back into the U.S. Navy.

Thomas Pileski, whose 20-year-old son is in a coma at Stony Brook University Hospital, said in an interview Thursday he’s grateful for all the support he and his family as received and hopes they all will “hug their loved ones and tell them they love them.”

“Everyone feels something like this won’t happen to them,” he said. “But, before you know it, it could be you.”

(more…)

07/08/15 9:00am
Zach Pileski posted this picture of his brother, Ben, after Sunday's accident and asked the community to keep Ben in their thoughts and prayers. (Credit: Zach Pileski/Facebook)

Ben Pileski is listed in critical condition at Stony Brook University Hospital. His brother, Zach, posted this picture of Ben after Sunday’s accident and asked the community to keep him in their thoughts and prayers. (Credit: Zach Pileski/Facebook)

A Mattituck High School graduate, on leave from serving in the U.S. Navy, was critically injured Sunday in Montauk after he was hit by a taxi while crossing the street.

Benjamin Pileski, 20, of Mattituck was walking with a group of people on Montauk Highway when the accident occurred shortly before 3:10 a.m. just west of Carl Fisher Plaza, according to an East Hampton Town police report.

(more…)

07/07/15 8:00pm

Tower to the People

Celebrate Nikola Tesla’s 159th birthday this Friday by watching the Long Island premiere of “Tower to the People,” a new documentary about a successful grassroots campaign to save Wardenclyffe, the famed inventor’s last laboratory located in Shoreham.

(more…)