Driver falls asleep, ends up on judge’s front lawn in Laurel

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The driver's Toyota RAV came to rest near these hedgerows off Main Road Thursday night.
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The driver’s Toyota RAV came to rest near these hedgerows.

A 22-year-old Nassau County woman fell asleep behind the wheel of a Toyota SUV and swerved off Main Road in Laurel late Thursday, narrowly missing a telephone pole and a large tree before ending up in row of hedges on a town justice’s front lawn, authorities said.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The hydrant that got got dragged onto a front lawn on Main Road Thursday night.
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | The hydrant that got got dragged onto a front lawn on Main Road Thursday night.

The woman was headed to Greenport to see a friend about 10:15 p.m. when she nodded off and swerved across westbound traffic, taking out a fire hydrant and depositing it on the lawn — about 25 feet away.

She was conscious and alert when firefighters arrived, said Jamesport fire chief John Andrejack. Firefighters and Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance workers tended to her at the scene before she was taken her to Peconic Bay Medical Center for what appeared to be non-serious injuries, he said.

No other vehicles were involved.

Police at the scene said they believed the woman had fallen asleep and wasn’t texting or otherwise distracted, as all her electronic equipment was in the back of the car and out of reach when officers arrived.

This was the second crash to happen in about week at the same spot just east of a bend on Main Road, police and firefighters said.

Both crashes involved drivers falling asleep at night, and both cars ended up finally crashing on the lawn of Richard Ehlers, a Riverhead Town Justice.

The car in last week’s accident took a gash out of another tree on the lawn, closer to the house.

Judge Ehlers said he’s counted six crashes in front of his house — which is set back far enough from the road to have gone unscathed — in the 34 years he’s lived there. No one had ever died in any of the accidents.

He was sleeping when he heard the crash Thursday night, he said.

Rather than recount what happened after that, he simply commended the volunteers for their response on one of the hottest nights of the year.

“These guys are great,” he said. “Could you imagine how hot they’ve got to be out here? To get up and do this is unbelievable.”

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