Chief: Blood alcohol results still pending from fatal crash

(Credit: AJ Ryan, Stringer News Service)
(Credit: AJ Ryan, Stringer News Service)

It could take about a week for results to be returned from the blood test to measure John Costello’s blood alcohol level during Saturday’s fatal crash in Greenport, Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley said Tuesday.

Mr. Costello consented to the blood test Saturday evening while being treated at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport for injuries sustained in the crash which led to the death of Bartolone Miguel, 32, of Peconic, according to a police report.

A blood test is almost always administered — rather than a less-precise breath test — in accidents involving a death or serious injury, he said.

“If there’s any kind of case where there’s serious physical injury we almost always go toward the route of blood, because it’s better evidence to go to court with,” Chief Flatley said. “We have a whole procedure for somebody involved in a serious-injury accident.”

The chief said the misdemeanor DWI charge Mr. Costello is currently facing could be upgraded once the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office receives the results of the blood test.

“The district attorney’s office will have to wait for results, then review the case and decide if there will be further criminal charges filed,” he said.

Since Mr. Costello consented to the blood test, police did not need a judge’s permission to administer the test, Chief Flatley added.

Initially charged with misdemeanor DWI, Mr. Costello posted $250 bail from Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was transferred for further treatment of his injuries, and is expected to be arraigned after he is released. A hospital spokesperson said Monday that he was listed in fair condition.

Southold Town Justice Rudolph Bruer said the arraignment will likely occur on the first Friday after Mr. Costello is released from the hospital.

Judge Bruer, who was the judge on call at the time of the crash, said Tuesday that judges weigh the likelihood the defendant will return for future court dates when determining a bail amount. The amount is reflective of the nature of the crime as well as the defendant’s past criminal history.

A police report states that this is Mr. Costello’s first DWI offense and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said he has no prior convictions of any sort.

Bail factors, which are outlined in state criminal procedure law, include the suspect’s ties to the community, the judge said. This includes the defendant’s employment status in the town, whether he was raised or attended school in the area, and if he has family in town.

“All these things are considered,” Judge Bruer said. “You’re supposed to [release the suspect on his own recognizance] or set a bail that is appropriate to the charge.”

In describing the crash, Chief Flatley said Oseas Ramirez, the westbound operator of the 2006 Honda struck by Mr. Costello, tried to dodge the oncoming pickup truck, which had crossed the double yellow line in front of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on Route 25, by swerving to the left, across traffic.

“He tried to compensate by going to his left into the opposite lanes, just to get away from [Mr. Costello’s pickup truck],” he said. “That’s why they hit on the passenger side and not the driver’s side.”

Mr. Ramirez was charged with driving without a license, police said. He is also expected back in Southold Town Justice Court at a later date.

Police interviewed Mr. Costello’s son, John, 43, following the crash. A Greenport resident is also listed as a witness, according to the police report.

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