10/17/14 11:00am
Police lead

Police lead shooting suspect Freddie Fernando Torres Campos into Southold Town Justice Court Friday morning for his arraignment. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Freddie Fernando Torres Campos, a 16-year-old accused of taking part in Tuesday morning’s shooting in Southold, has been ordered held on $250,000 cash bail after his arraignment in court Friday.

Mr. Campos — who was lead into court on crutches wearing a cast on his left foot where he was allegedly shot by another suspect while taking part in the attack — was arrested on Wednesday charged with two counts of felony assault.

The 16-year-old’s defense attorney, Eric Bessa, said the teen was an undocumented immigrant who worked as a landscaper and who had been living in the area for a year. He had asked for lower bail to be set, but Suffolk County prosecutor Timothy McNulty said the “serious allegations and the strength of the people’s case” warranted higher bail.

Mr. Bessa later declined to comment on the case. A woman who was in court and who spoke with Mr. Bessa after the arraignment told a Suffolk Times reporter that she wasn’t related to the case and declined further comment.

Justice Rudolph Bruer set bail at $250,000 cash or $750,000 bond and issued two stay-away orders to protect the two victims in the shooting. Mr. Campos is due back in court on Oct. 22.

The three other suspects in the shooting appeared in Southold Town court Friday morning and had their cases adjourned to next week. Attorneys said the cases will be presented before a grand jury for a possible indictment by Friday evening.

10/16/14 7:59am
Yating Liu (right) meets with Annie Wieland, the store manager who discovered her purse at Tanger Outlets earlier this month. Ms. Wieland had the purse sent halfway around the world to China, hoping to return it to its owner. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Yating Liu (right) meets with Annie Wieland, the store manager who discovered her purse at Tanger Outlets earlier this month. Ms. Wieland had the purse sent halfway around the world to China, hoping to return it to its owner. (Credit: Paul Squire)

One of the first things Yating Liu did when she came to the United States in late August was buy herself a little blue purse.

Ting, as friends call her, is a native of China who is currently a junior exchange student at McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead. She said she bought the purse, which is about six inches long and looks more like an oversized wallet, while shopping with her host mother, Joan Sattler of Hampton Bays, and Fiona Yang, another international student living with her at Ms. Sattler’s home.

Ting needed a new purse for her nearly year-long stay in the country. After purchasing it, she filled it with bank and identification cards, family photos and hundreds of American dollars.

But less than a week later, the purse was gone — lost while shopping at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead.

“I got very nervous about it,” Ting, 16, told the News-Review.

(more…)

10/15/14 3:00pm
Oysterponds Superintendent Richard Malone and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas at Tuesday night's school board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Oysterponds Superintendent Richard Malone and school board president Dorothy-Dean Thomas at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The Oysterponds school board will have to fill the vacant seat left by former board member Alison Lyne’s resignation next May.

But what happens to the seat after Ms. Lyne’s term expires in 2016 is up for debate.  (more…)

10/12/14 8:00am
The sailboat Optimistic sails in Cutchogue Harbor before last weekend's Whitebread race. The boat would late sink off Shelter Island in rough seas. But the boat could soon sail again. (Credit: Richard Labella)

The sailboat Optimistic sails in Cutchogue Harbor before last weekend’s Whitebread race. The boat would late sink off Shelter Island in rough seas. But the boat could soon sail again. (Credit: Richard Labella)

Optimistic, the sailboat that sank off Shelter Island during the Whitebread race last weekend, will sail again.

In fact, the 28-foot sailboat owned by Huntington resident Bill Archer is in such good condition that it could set sail now, said Brewers Yacht Yard manager Michael Acebo.

“We could put the mast and sails on and [Mr. Archer] could go sailing this weekend,” Mr. Acebo said last week.

Optimitic was one of 92 boats competing Oct. 4 in the 21st annual Whitebread, a regatta from Cutchogue around Shelter Island and back. About 11:15 a.m., just as it was rounding the MOA buoy near Ram’s Head, the boat was hit by strong gusts of wind, Mr. Archer told The Suffolk Times.

“The winds were blowing harder than had been predicted and there were strong gusts of wind,” he said. “We were careful to be on the look-out for wind gusts which you can see coming by observing the water surface.” As the gusts got close to Optimistic, Mr. Archer would let the main sail out to keep the boat from tipping, a technique used in racing called “heeling over.”

Mr. Archer and his crew turned Optimistic as they headed toward Sag Harbor and back to home, but they took their eyes off the water for a split second, he said. In that moment, a gust of wind struck the boat and grabbed the sail, pulling it over and causing water to flood into the cockpit from the starboard side.

Mr. Archer said he released the main sail to right the boat just in time for a wave to hit on the other side. By then, the stern was underwater.

“The rest of the cockpit filled up with successive waves and we quickly began to submerge, stern first,” he said. “The sinking took all of two minutes.”

Thankfully, two racing boats also competing in the Whitebread — Sea Breeze and Tidelines — happened to be sailing nearby and saw Optimistic in distress. Both vessels pulled out of the race to help rescue the crew, all of whom were brought back to land unharmed.

Optimistic sunk to the bottom, about 50 to 60 feet down.

The next day, Douglass Marine went out to try to locate the boat by sonar, but was unsuccessful. The next morning, Mr. Archer and Douglass Marine employees dragged a weighted line across the bottom and eventually found Optimistic sitting on the bay bottom upright. Her mast was only a few feet below the surface of the water, Mr. Archer said.

Douglass Marine raised the boat and brought it to Brewer Yacht Yard, where they began work to repair the sailboat, Mr. Acebo — the manager — said.

Optimistic had to be demasted, and the sails have to be cleaned. The fuel tank was also drained and the engine was flushed, Mr. Acebo said. Despite being submerged, the engine is now working again.

The boat itself is also in good shape, only needing to have the little electrical work inside replaced. Mr. Acebo said Optimistic was recovered quickly and wasn’t underwater enough to have the salt water affect it too much.

Fixing Optimistic, Mr. Acebo said, is far from an “insurmountable task.” It will be ready to sail again by next season.

Mr. Archer said he’s grateful to Mahlon Russell, skipper of Sea Breeze, Bob and Carol McIlvain of Tidelines and both crews for “putting themselves in peril by motoring around in rough waters, plucking us from the waters and motoring us back to port.”

Mr. Archer also thanked Patty, an employee at Douglass Marine who picked up his distress calls and helped coordinate the rescue. He told the Suffolk Times he is thankful for the support of his family and the members of the Peconic Bay Sailing Association as well as his crew who followed orders calmly and have “offered unending support and encouragement.”

“Although an ordeal, I have a lot to be grateful for,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

10/04/14 4:15pm
The sailboat Optimistic, seen here on the left with sail number 148  behind a fellow racer Buccaneer, jockeys for position before Saturday's Whitebread race. The boat would later sink off Shelter Island in rough seas.

The sailboat Optimistic, seen here on the left with sail number 148 behind a fellow racer Buccaneer, jockeys for position before Saturday’s Whitebread race. The boat would later sink off Shelter Island in rough seas.

A 28-foot sailboat participating in Saturday’s 21st annual Whitebread race sank off the coast of Shelter Island during rough seas this morning, the U.S. Coast Guard has confirmed.  (more…)

10/02/14 4:00pm
Volunteer firefighters march in a Presidents Day parade hosted by Greenport Fire Department. (Randee Daddona file photo)

Volunteer firefighters march in a Presidents Day parade hosted by Greenport Fire Department. (Randee Daddona file photo)

Local fire department and ambulance chiefs are praising recently signed legislation that protects volunteer firefighters and EMTs from losing their regular jobs for missing work while responding to disasters and crises.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law Sept. 23. The new law provides excused leave for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who are called away to help out during a state of emergency.

Those volunteers will be granted unpaid excused leave for the duration of their service during a declared state of emergency, according to the legislation.

Employers can request that volunteers provide them with documentation showing they are on the fire department roster and the protection can be withdrawn if the employer can prove that the volunteer’s absence would cause “undue hardship” to the business.

Still, some at North Fork fire departments said the law would provide peace of mind for seasoned volunteers and new members alike.

Cutchogue Fire Department Chief Antone Berkoski said some are “reluctant” to join the department.

“They want to help the community but they’re afraid to get fired or they don’t want to have to take the days [off],” he said. This new legislation may make it easier to recruit new members, he said.

Joseph Raynor, Riverhead Fire Department’s fire chief, called the bill “good legislation.”

“Why should [your job] be held in jeopardy when you’re helping out your community?” he asked. While it’s comforting to know his volunteers will have their jobs protected while answering emergencies, Mr. Raynor said most managers in town are understanding in times of crisis.

“Riverhead businesses are very good about it,” he said. “But when you have to run across the businessman who’s not friendly to the fire services, it’s good to protect the [firefighters].”

Southold Fire Chief Peggy Killian also praised the new law.

“I think if you’re volunteering to help the community, you shouldn’t have to worry,” she said.

When contacted this week, Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance assistant chief Lisa Corwin said she hadn’t heard about the new law.

“We as volunteers want to be able to help when there is a disaster, and the last thing we should have to think about is how our job is going to be affected by volunteering to help others,” she said. “Fortunately, most of the members of RVAC are very dedicated, and whenever there is a crisis or threat of a big storm, we seem to have plenty of members to help the public, so this law will definitely help everyone.”