Police Say Drunken Driver Injured an Officer Before Flipping S.U.V.
A 36-year-old man who, according to East Hampton Town police, "refused to cooperate with officers, then sped off from a parked position at an unsafe and imprudent speed," allegedly dragged an officer clinging to his vehicle about 15 to 20 feet through the parking lot of the Montauk 7-Eleven early Saturday morning. Police said the officer, Andrew Nimmo, was "thrown from the vehicle" and experienced "significant pain and multiple abrasions requiring medical attention."
The incident began at about 4:45 a.m., when, according to a release, police spotted "what appeared to be a group of apparently intoxicated subjects who had just gotten into a 2001 GMC" in front of the store. Andrew D. Hellman was behind the wheel. When police approached to question him, he "put the vehicle in drive as the officer was attempting to prevent him from doing so," and sped off "at an unsafe and imprudent speed," said the criminal complaint filed against him hours later in East Hampton Town Justice Court.
He drove out of the parking lot onto Montauk Highway, but lost control of the GMC within about 100 yards. It overturned across from the Kirk Park parking lot, according to the accident report.
The criminal complaint said Mr. Hellman had 20 plastic bags of cocaine and one small glass jar — enough to justify a charge of drug possession with intent to sell. The aggregate weight of the cocaine was one-eighth ounce or more, the complaint said. He also was reported to have five pills, believed to be Adderall, one believed to be Vyvanse, and two halves of a green rectangular pill said to be Alprazolam, all in a Ziploc-type bag found in the car.
Mr. Hellman was seen in handcuffs sitting on the grass by the S.U.V. shortly after the accident. He was not hurt, nor were his four passengers, Mattew W. Schuppe, 30, Christopher L. Metz, 43, Rebecca A. Shumskis, 33, and William McFarland, 37. Mr. Metz was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana. The road was shut down for about four hours while police investigated. The GMC was impounded.
Mr. Hellman, who told the judge he had moved from Sag Harbor to East Hampton recently, faces three felony charges: criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree with intent to sell, criminal possession of narcotics in the fourth degree, and assault with intent to cause physical injury with a deadly weapon, as well as five misdemeanors: driving while intoxicated, reckless endangerment in the second degree, and three counts of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree.
Carl Irace, the lawyer who represented Mr. Hellman before East Hampton Town Justice Steven Tekulsky at his arraignment later that morning, argued that his client was unlikely to be indicted on the charges and that the aggregate weight of the cocaine was unlikely to be as much as police alleged. He suggested that Mr. Hellman, who told Justice Tekulsky he had grown up here, graduated from East Hampton High School, and was a real estate agent at Town & Country Real Estate, be released on his own recognizance, but suggested $2,500 if the court chose to set bail.
Because of the nature of the charges, Justice Tekulsky told Mr. Hellman, and the fact that he had attempted to flee while being investigated for a criminal charge, he would set bail. He set it at $2,500 on each of the felonies, for a total of $7,500 cash or $15,000 bond.
"Anytime someone gets injured, including the first responders who dutifully serve our community, we always hope for a speedy recovery," Mr. Irace said after the proceeding. "The driver in this case denies the allegations and looks forward to returning to court to fight the case."
Mr. Hellman's father and girlfriend were in the courtroom, but whether he would be able to make bail was unclear following his arraignment. Because he had refused to submit to a chemical breathalyzer test, Justice Tekulsky also suspended his driver's license. The State Department of Motor Vehicles will hold a hearing on the matter on Sept. 5; Mr. Hellman is due back in court the day after.
Officer Nimmo was treated and released from Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, police said.