Group fundraising to return fatal crash victim to native country

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12/08/2014 4:57 PM |

An undated photo of Bartolone Miguel.

A local fundraising effort is underway to help the family of the Peconic man who died Saturday in an alleged drunk driving crash to send his body to his native country of Guatemala where his widow and son live.

Bartolone Miguel, 32, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his friend and co-worker Oseas Ramirez, 22, also of Peconic, and killed after their car was hit by John Costello Sr., 71, of Greenport.

Southold Town police has said Mr. Costello posted $250 bail and remains at Stony Brook Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. A hospital spokesperson said Monday he was listed in fair condition.

According to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, Mr. Costello has no prior convictions on record. He is expected to be arraigned on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge at a later date.

Mr. Ramirez was treated for minor injuries at Eastern Long Island Hospital and released Saturday, police said. He was charged with driving without a license, police confirmed Sunday.

Sister Margaret Smyth of North Fork Spanish Apostolate said a group of Mr. Miguel’s friends and relatives visited her office Monday looking for guidance on how to send his body to Guatemala.

She said her group is accepting donations to help the family out with funeral services.

“Flights right now before Christmas is the killer,” she said. “But my experience is the community always rises to the occasion.”

Mr. Miguel worked at Pellegrini Winery & Vineyard in Cutchogue for the past six years.

Jens Ruthenberg of Pellegrini said he has a lot of fond memories of Mr. Miguel and he’ll miss his friendship.

“He started off at the bottom and because he was so hard working, he became crew leader,” Mr. Ruthenberg said. “He was an incredibly hard worker.”

Pellegrini winemaker Zander Hargrave agreed and described Mr. Miguel as “kind hearted, super hard working and a strong leader.”

“It’s hard for me to process that he’s gone,” Mr. Hargrave said. “It’s a devastating lost. He had his whole future ahead of him. He was really living the American dream — working tirelessly to provide for his family and make a better life.”

To donate, Sister Margaret said those interested can send a check payable to North Fork Spanish Apostolate with “funeral service” in the memo and mail to St. John’s R.C. Church, 546 St. John’s Place, Riverhead, N.Y. 11901.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Homes, and are pending.

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