Rashed Mian

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Rashed Mian has been covering local news for the Long Island Press since 2011. He graduated from Hofstra University in 2010 where he studied print journalism. Rashed, the staff's multimedia reporter, covers daily news for the web, shoots/edits feature videos and writes about civil liberties. He loves Afghan food and sports. Rashed is also a caffeine freak. Email: rmian@longislandpress.com. Twitter: rashedmian

NWS Warns of -20 Wind Chill on Long Island This Weekend

Long Island weather forecast

Just the thought of what’s coming this weekend has us shivering in our pants.

The National Weather Service in Upton said Long Islanders should expect “dangerously cold” conditions beginning overnight Saturday with subzero temperatures and wind chill values close to -20 across the Island.

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The blustery conditions can be blamed on an “arctic outbreak” making its way to the region this weekend.

NWS meteorologists said in a weather briefing that the coldest time period will be from late Saturday through Sunday morning.

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high near 22 during the day but the temperature will steadily drop into the lower teens as the day progresses. Eventually the mercury will plummet to around -5 degrees at night. What’s more, the wind chill could make it feel like -20, forecasters said.

The arctic blast will hang over the Island on Sunday—meaning Valentine’s Day revelers will have to bundle up to enjoy the festivities. Temperatures on Sunday are expected to hit the teens but won’t go much higher than that, the weather service said.

The agency is advising residents to pack on layers and make use of gloves and hats to prevent the loss of body heat.

Long Island Weather Forecast

The deep freeze could cause serious health issues like hypothermia, the weather service warned. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering, the weather service said.

A reprieve from bone-chilling temperatures could come as early as next week. Monday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 35. Things only get better from there with back-to-back days of temperatures in the low 40s, forecasters said.

Much colder, possibly record breaking temperatures in store for the weekend.

Posted by US National Weather Service New York NY on Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Two-Thirds Of New Hampshire GOP Voters Support Trump’s Muslim Ban

Donald Trump Muslim Ban

Demagoguery won out in New Hampshire Tuesday, with real estate mogul Donald Trump riding a wave of xenophobic and anti-establishment hysteria all the way to the top of the ballot in the first-in-the-nation primary.

The bombastic billionaire trounced the other competitors seeking the Republican presidential nomination, buoyed by two-thirds of GOP voters who expressed support for his plan to ban all non-US citizen Muslims from entering the country.

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Trump’s proposal came shortly after the attacks in San Bernardino in December that killed 14 and injured more than 20 people, and several weeks after 130 people were murdered in Paris.

Exit polls conducted at New Hampshire polling sites Tuesday indicated large support for such a prohibition on an entire religion—a religion that’s represented by 1.6 billion people worldwide but makes up less than 1 percent of the US population.

Nayyar Imam, a pharmacist and the first-ever Suffolk County police Muslim chaplain, said he’d think twice about traveling if Trump secures the nomination and eventually moves into the White House.

“It’s a scary situation,” he said, noting that most Muslims in the United States are immigrants who often travel to their homelands or Saudi Arabia for religious pilgrimages.

In a previous interview with the Press after Trump initially called for the ban, Habeeb Ahmed of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury became emotional when contemplating a future in which he’d be barred from coming home.

“If he was president, I may not be allowed back in this country,” Ahmed said, his eyes welling up. “And then suddenly, I’m a homeless person.”

Muslims have not been the only population caught in the political crossfire, however. The deep-pocketed presidential contender—and frontrunner for the GOP nomination—has also targeted Mexicans, whom he referred to as rapists and criminals while promising that his administration would pressure Mexico to solely fund the construction of a “beautiful wall” at the southern border.

Trump has stood firmly behind his proposal to ban Muslims, while also condoning torture, and even suggesting he’d use techniques far more brutal than waterboarding on prisoners. Waterboarding and other torture techniques were previously used on detainees nabbed during the Bush administration’s War on Terror, but a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation later found that torture was an ineffective intelligence-gathering tool.

Amid anti-refugee sentiment, Trump also said he’d stare into the face of a Syrian child and tell them they’re not welcome in the United States. Syrian refugees have been fleeing their war-torn country by the thousands in large part due to the merciless killing of Muslims and people deemed apostates by the apocalyptic terror cult ISIS.

“They’re chopping off heads of Christians and many other people in the Middle East,” Trump said. “They’re chopping heads off, they laugh at us when they hear we’re not going to approve waterboarding and then they’ll have a James Foley and others where they cut off their heads.”

Muslim-advocacy groups—and even President Obama—have directly linked the verbal assault on Muslims by presidential candidates to real-life attacks on Muslim Americans.

Trump is not the only GOP contender accused of making inflammatory remarks toward Muslims, but he is the loudest and the most persistent.

Both Democrats and Republicans have condemned his remarks—which have prompted comparisons to Hitler. Despite the backlash, a large segment of the electorate is energized by anti-immigrant proposals, and they showed it in New Hampshire, by heading to the polls in droves.

Muslims throughout the country have condemned atrocities committed in the name of their religion, which they say has been hijacked by bloodthirsty murderers. Locally, the Islamic Center of Long Island created an interfaith institute to promote tolerance between people of different faiths. Long Island Muslims have received widespread support from other religious leaders, who hope their actions could help breakdown dangerous stereotypes.

Imam, SCPD’s Muslim chaplain, questioned whether Trump voters who support his ban proposal have ever previously come in contact with a Muslim American.

He told the story of customer at his pharmacy baffled to learn he was Muslim because he’s “such a nice guy,” insinuating that all Muslims are bad.

Asked if he would travel if Trump became president, Imam said: “I would try to avoid it.”

Imam said interfaith efforts aren’t enough to combat Islamophobia because it often feels like religious leaders are “preaching to the choir.” He wants Muslims to be more involved in the community and get to know their neighbors. Only then, he suggested, would people have a truer understanding of the religion.

(Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Reward Offered in Case of Puppy Thrown from Car

Dog thrown from car in Uniondale
This five-month-old pup was thrown from a car in Uniondale on Saturday, the Nassau County SPCA said.

The Nassau County SPCA is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for tossing a puppy out of a car in Uniondale.

The animal protection agency said the five-month-old female pup was thrown from a dark-colored sedan Saturday night at about 7:45 p.m. on Bedford Avenue.

“The Nassau County SPCA is disgusted with the callous behavior exhibited by” the perpetrator, said Nassau SPCA Detective Robert Sowers.

A witness who saw the disturbing incident unfold said the car slowed down before the pup was tossed onto the side of the road. The driver then fled, she told the Nassau County SPCA.

The dog was so traumatized by what happened that she initially refused to be helped, the SPCA said. Det. Sowers, who responded to the scene, was able to earn the dog’s trust and he brought it to Massapequa Pet Vet for medical care, the SPCA said.

“We are offering this reward with the hope that someone will come forward and identify whoever threw this puppy from the moving vehicle so that they can be held accountable,” Sowers said.

Anyone with information regarding the incident can call 516-THE-SPCA.

Southampton Cop Credited With Saving Baby

Tragedy was averted last week when a Southampton Town police officer revived a tot who was discovered without a pulse inside his family’s Westhampton home last week, authorities said.

Officer Kristian LoRusso responded to the home on Feb. 3 after the one-year-old’s sister reported the emergency to 911, police said.

When LoRusso arrived, he was handed the child and noticed that the little boy was blue and didn’t have a pulse.

The 16-year veteran sprung into action by performing “rescue breathing and chest compressions on the child,” who subsequently began breathing on his own, police said in a press release.

The child was then transported to a nearby hospital for further treatment, police said. Authorities did not say what caused the child to stop breathing.

Southampton Town police credited LoRusso with saving the child’s life. Southampton Town police said LoRusso has worked in the department for 16 years. Before his stint in Southampton, LoRusso worked for nearly three years with the NYPD.

Long Island Weather Forecast Calls for 3-6 Inches of Snow

Long Island snow forecast

Valentine’s Day is coming just in time to warm our collective hearts.

One day after a light snow sprinkled Long Island, forecasters are warning of more snow and plunging temperatures for the remainder of the week.

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The National Weather Service in Upton has issued a winter weather advisory for Nassau and Suffolk counties in advance of another snow storm that could dump 3-6 inches of white stuff on the region Tuesday night into Wednesday. The advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. until noon Wednesday.

The weather service said periods of snow could cause travel difficulties.

“Be prepared for slippery roads and limited visibility,” the agency said on its website. “And use caution while driving.”

The weather service is also warning of potential flooding along the south shore of Nassau and western Suffolk, with tides three feet above normal. Coastal areas could see “widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads and/or properties due to height of storm tide,” the agency said.

Snow is not expected to start falling until late Tuesday evening and could continue until 10 a.m. Wednesday, possibly disrupting yet another morning commute. Tuesday’s forecast calls for a high near 35 with the wind chill making it feel a few degrees cooler.

Wednesday’s high is 39 degrees.

The mercury will begin dipping Thursday, especially in the evening, with a low of 18 expected when the sun goes down. There is also a chance of snow Thursday and Friday.

The weekend will be brisk. The weather service is predicting a high of 25 degrees on Saturday before the thermometer plunges into single digits in the evening. Valentine’s Day won’t be much better, with temperatures in the teens throughout the day Sunday.

Pentagon Releases 198 Photos of Alleged Detainee Abuse From War on Terror

After more then a decade of litigation, the US government last week released 198 photographs of alleged detainee abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan—but the most damning pictures still remain hidden from the public eye, a civil liberties group has said.

The release stems from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2004. But they represent only a sliver of the estimated 2,000 images the ACLU has sued to be made public.

The photos are not overly graphic. Most images show close-up shots of bruises on detainees’ arms, legs, feet, hands that appear to be rather harmless injuries. Some men are seen blindfolded and in restraints. Human rights groups argue that the bumps and bruises were a result of torture and abuse perpetrated on behalf of the US military.

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“[Friday’s] release illustrates just a small portion of the real-life horror story that was the U.S. government’s practice of torture,” Naureen Shah, director of Amnesty International USA’s Security and Human Rights Program, said in a statement. “Prosecutors should review these and other documents for evidence of torture and other ill-treatment. These photos are not only reminders of torture committed by U.S. personnel, they may provide potential new evidence of criminal wrongdoing.”

The ACLU criticized the government for its “selective release” of the photos, which, it argues, could “mislead the public about the true scope of what happened.”

What occurred while the detainees were in military custody when President George W. Bush launched the War on Terror is not fully known. But the ACLU says some of the photos yet to see the light of day depict an elderly Iraqi woman’s alleged sexual abuse, a teenager’s mock execution, and the fatal shooting of an Iraqi farmer by a US soldier. While the free-speech organization hasn’t seen the photos, the incidents they describe are detailed in military documents. According to reports, the Pentagon said 14 of the incidents have been substantiated.

President Obama originally said in 2009 that the White House would release the photos but reversed course on the advice of US military officials who claimed releasing the images could pose a danger to US personnel overseas and further inflame tensions in the Middle East.

The ACLU lawsuit came months before photos documenting torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad were splashed on the front page of newspapers. Some of the photos depicted naked prisoners piled on top of each other like a pyramid, detainees standing in stress positions, and one of a leashed detainee sprawled on the ground. The scandal led to the conviction of 11 US soldiers. Ever since, the ACLU has been fighting to have upwards of 2,000 photos released.

A federal district court in March 2015 ordered the entire collection of photos released but the government has since appealed. The case is still in the courts.

“The Abu Ghraib photos illustrated the power that visual evidence has to galvanize public attention and concern, and ultimately lead to important, albeit insufficient, efforts at accountability and reform,” the ACLU said. “The same can be said about recent videos depicting police abuse, which have fed a critical national conversation about racial justice. Images make it much harder for us to turn a blind eye to injustice.”

Torture of US prisoners was brought back into the fore in late 2014 when the Senate Intelligence Committee released its long-awaited torture report, which concluded that enhanced interrogation methods were ineffective, deeply flawed and “far more brutal” than the government previously disclosed to the American public and lawmakers.

Last December, Human Rights Watch published a report titled “No More Excuses,” which outlined legal justification for an investigation—and prosecution—of the post-9/11 CIA torture masterminds.

(Photo credit: Pentagon/ACLU)

Long Island Muslim PAC Seeks to Support Friendly Candidates

Muslim Americans at a rally denouncing terror in December. (Photo credit: Rashed Mian/Long Island Press)

For years, Muslim Americans have spoken in hopeful terms about stepping out of the shadows, interacting more with neighbors, extending a helping hand and, perhaps more daunting, getting involved in the political process. While the wheels of progress have laboriously been churning, it seems anti-Islam rhetoric has accelerated their pursuit of inclusivity.

On Saturday, several elected officials will join members of the Muslim American community for Long Island-based Muslim Political Action Committee USA’s inaugural fundraiser. The honoree that evening will be New York State Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), who has recently spoken up emphatically about protecting the rights of Muslim Americans in the face of attacks—from pundits and politicians, and from those have shouted bigoted remarks or vandalized mosques.

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Muslim PAC USA has been in existence for about a month. It’s goal, according to the PAC’s president Aamir Sultan, is two-pronged. Like any political action committee, the group will donate to campaigns of politicians dedicated to its cause. In this case, those include candidates who are willing to publicly support Muslim Americans and promote tolerance.

Its long-term goals are more ambitious. The PAC hopes to see more Muslim Americans run for office, so the voice of a much-maligned minority community can be heard.

The PAC will ask those seeking elected office “how they support the Muslim community and what have they done in the past and…are they willing to come out in public and talk about Islamophobia and anti-Islam sentiment,” Sultan told the Press.

Sultan, who has his own IT firm and is on Suffolk County’s Asian American Advisory Board, said it’s important elected officials confront Islamophobia.

“Just like any other minority, all of them have gone through this rhetoric and the phobias and bigotry and all that—now it’s our turn as Muslims,” he said. “So we just have to get proactive.”

“It’s just now the numbers are increasing and we are becoming more visible in society,” he added. “We just have to follow suit what previous minorities did—the Jews, the Irish, the Italians, they all faced these things.”

Sultan, who lives in Dix Hills, got to know Ramos after he started doing multicultural work with the assemblyman, he said.

“Then this whole Trump thing started,” he added, referring to GOP hopeful Donald Trump, who has called for a ban on all Muslims from entering the US “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Trump’s remarks came after 14 people were killed and nearly two-dozen were injured in the San Bernardino shooting in early December, and a month after shootings and explosions left 130 dead in Paris.

Muslim Americans around the world have condemned those and other atrocities, saying such bloodshed is anathema to their religion. But their denunciations, they say, often receive little media attention.

During his first visit to a US mosque since entering the White House, President Obama on Wednesday noted that most Americans’ view of Muslims is shaped by media—in news and entertainment, lamenting how most Muslims in TV or film are more likely than not to be depicted through the lens of national security.

The uptick in anti-Islamic rhetoric has also come with an increase of attacks on Muslim communities. Men and women have been threatened or attacked in recent months, mosques have been vandalized, and Korans have been defiled and their pages riddled with bullets. Muslim Americans have told the Press that Islamophobia is worse now than it was directly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Their anecdotes appear to be supported by statistics. In 2014, hate crimes fell in every category, except those against Muslims—which spiked nearly 14 percent.

“Given the barbaric Islamic State attacks in Paris last week and elsewhere recently, that latter trend seems destined to accelerate,” the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote last November.

Although most anti-Muslim remarks have come from Republicans, Sultan said Muslim PAC USA would donate to any candidate who supports its cause.

Still, he admitted, Democrats, not Republicans, have been the most outspoken defenders of the community in recent months.

Sultan, who came to Long Island in 1990, thinks Muslims should seize the opportunity and become more engaged in their communities and in politics.

“It’s become real vital,” he said. “Now we have to be in active mode as opposed to passive mode.”

For now, the group will focus on local elections, whether its local town councils, Nassau and Suffolk legislatures or state offices.

PACs can only donate up to $5,000 to a candidate’s election committee, unlike post-Citizens United Super PACs which can spend unlimited sums of money on behalf of a candidate but are prohibited from working directly with their campaign.

In the coming weeks Muslim PAC USA will vet potential candidates and see where they stand on the issues. Sultan is hopeful.

“I think that mold has been broken, of politicians not being able to speak up for Muslims,” he said.

In 1st Visit to US Mosque, Obama Calls Hateful Rhetoric ‘Inexcusable’

In his first visit to a mosque since he was elected to the White House nearly eight years ago, President Barack Obama called anti-Islamic sentiment rampant in the United States today “inexcusable” and said such rhetoric has no place in American society.

A stoic Obama told the congregation at the Islamic Society of Baltimore that he was inspired by the successful lives they’ve built for themselves in America as scientists, doctors, US soldiers, and noted that he is comforted by the mosque’s service to the city.

But the president’s most impassioned comments came when, without naming any presidential candidate in particular, he lamented anti-Muslim rhetoric propagated by politicians—which he directly linked with attacks on Muslim communities throughout the country.

“Recently we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country,” Obama said Wednesday. “No surprise then that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged.”

Two threats were made against the Islamic Society of Baltimore, he said. Women wearing hijabs—traditional Muslim head coverings—have been targeted, Obama told the crowd.

“We’ve seen children bullied; we’ve seen mosques vandalized,” the president continued.

The president put the onus on Americans of all religions to stand up against hate.

Obama appeared to be referencing comments made by Republican presidential hopefuls, such as Donald Trump, who called for a ban of all Muslims entering the US. Another candidate, Jeb Bush, said all Syrian refugees seeking to come to the US should undergo a religious test before entering.

The national Muslim advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in December that there had been more attacks against mosques in 2015 than they’ve ever previously recorded.

Muslim Americans were once again viewed as suspicious following the horrific attacks in Paris that killed 130 and the shooting in San Bernardino by a Muslim couple that killed 14 and injured 22.

“You’ve seen too often people conflating the horrific acts of terrorism with the beliefs of an entire faith,” Obama said.

The president said the far majority of Muslims around the world are peace-loving and blamed a small fraction for perverting a religion followed by 1.6 billion people worldwide in order to justify their violence and land grabs that have further destabilized regions in the Middle East and Africa.

Obama sought to allay concerns of many Muslim Americans, especially parents, who’ve been forced to have tough discussions with their children about how they fit into the fabric of American society. One mother wrote to the president and said her heart “cries every night” thinking about how her daughter might be treated at school.

In letters and in direct talks with Obama, Muslim Americans shared deep-felt beliefs that they are being treated like second-class citizens.

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“The notion that they would be filled with doubt, questioning their place in this great country of ours…that’s not who we are,” Obama said of Muslim Americans. “We’re one American family, and when any part of our family starts to feel separate or second class or targeted, it tears at the very fabric of our nation.”

Obama’s visit will no doubt spark criticism. Surprisingly, he made a not-so-veiled dig at detractors who claim Obama is a closet Muslim by invoking similar attacks thrust against Thomas Jefferson, who along with John Adams, owned a Koran.

“I’m in good company,” he said, drawing laughs.

While some may assail Obama from visiting a mosque because of a perceived threat its congregants pose, he isn’t the first modern day US president to do so. The Democratic president’s Republican predecessor made a similar plea after deadlier terror attacks.

President George W. Bush, six days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, paid a visit to the Islamic Center of Washington D.C. It was during that meeting with Islamic leaders that Bush famously said, “Islam is peace.”

“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” Bush said that day. “That’s not what Islam is all about.”


 

“Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”


 

Obama’s relationship with the Muslim community is a complicated one.

While he has repeatedly decried attacks against Muslims, Obama has also been at the helm of ever expanding drone wars that have killed terror suspects but also innocent civilians living in Muslim-dominated countries.

It’s also the Obama administration that has promoted a controversial community-driven approach to fighting radical ideology called Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). When the White House hosted a summit on the topic last March, human rights groups and Muslim advocacy organizations criticized it for essentially reinforcing the stereotype that Muslim communities should be under constant suspicion.

The human rights groups wondered why the supposed extremism summit focused on Muslims and did not address attacks by right wing extremists. Since 9/11, right wing extremists in the US have killed 48 people and 45 have been slain by Muslim extremists, according to the New America Foundation.

“CVE’s focus on American Muslim communities and communities presumed to be Muslim stigmatizes them as inherently suspect,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to Obama three months before the summit. “It sets American Muslims apart from their neighbors and singles them out for monitoring based on faith, race and ethnicity.”

On Wednesday, Obama did not shy away from acknowledging that some Muslims commit atrocities—which he blamed partly on groups like al Qaeda and the self-declared Islamic State, who use a warped ideology and falsely claim that the US is at war with Islam to bolster their ranks.

Obama also called on the media—the TV and film industry, in particular—to feature Muslims in non-terror roles, arguing that most Americans’ views of Muslims are shaped not by direct interaction with Muslims but by what they see on the news and in entertainment.

“An attack on one faith is an attack on all our faiths,” Obama said. “And when any religious group is targeted we all have a responsibility to speak up.”

NYPD Cop Pimped Prostitutes on Long Island, Feds Say

An 11-year veteran of the NYPD who was fired last month was charged with pimping more than 10 women at motels in the metropolitan area and on Long Island, federal authorities said.

NYPD officer Eduardo Cornejo, 33, was expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of transporting women in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution.

Robert Capers, US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Cornejo “betrayed the trust” of city residents by promoting prostitution and profiting from “his exploitation of women.”

“Cornejo not only abused the public trust, given to him as an NYPD officer,” added FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez, “but he showed no human decency” when he pimped out the women.

Federal authorities began conducting surveillance on Cornejo after an anonymous tipster told the NYPD last year that the cop was allegedly “selling sexual services of a young woman,” according to the criminal complaint, which was unsealed Tuesday.

Investigators followed Cornejo around Staten Island, Long Island, and the Bronx for months, staking out motels and observing conversations between Cornejo and nearly a dozen women believed to be prostitutes, the complaint states.

Their investigation took them to East Meadow on several occasions, where Cornejo was allegedly spotted with multiple women—some of whom authorities linked to escort services.

On Dec. 5, an undercover investigator set up an appointment with one of the women linked to Cornejo and discussed sexual services while the cop was at the unidentified motel in East Meadow.

Eventually, the feds recorded wiretap conversations in which Cornejo allegedly discussed splitting profits with one of the women and concerns about cops getting suspicious if they saw him standing with a group of women outside motel rooms.

“I commend our Internal Affairs Bureau which takes a proactive role in investigating serious misconduct among the ranks of the NYPD and works closely with prosecutors in building cases against those who violate the very laws that they have sworn to enforce,” said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton.

Cornejo faces up to a decade in prison, if convicted. He was fired on Jan. 15.

Fort Salonga Crash Kills 2, Injures Another

Suffolk County police detectives are investigating a fatal crash that killed two men and injured another in Fort Salonga early Tuesday morning.

Police said 26-year-old Leland Acampora of Hauppauge was driving a Hyundai Sonata west on Fort Salonga Road at 4:30 a.m. when he apparently lost control of the car and crashed into a tree.

The driver and 26-year-old Woody Zalman of Commack, who was seated in the back of the car, were both pronounced dead at the scene by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office, police said.

The front seat passenger, 26-year-old Paul Weingart of East Northport, was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, where he was listed in serious condition, police said.

The Hyundai was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing, police said.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to call the Second Squad at 631-854-8252.