Police have identified the driver of the car that they say fled the scene after a fatal hit-and-run in Riverhead last week.
According to Riverhead Police, Joseph D. Plummer, 48, of Middle Island, has been identified as the driver that struck Scott Wayte, who was celebrating his 50th birthday with family at Cliff's Rendezvous on Friday. Wayte went out to move his car and was struck while crossing East Main Street.
Plummer was arrested on Wednesday after an investigation led to the location of the vehicle involved in the accident, a 1999 Saturn, police said; the vehicle was located at Plummer's address and seized as evidence.
Plummer surrendered to authorities and was charged with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident after a death, a felony under New York State vehicle and traffic law. He was held for arraignment.
Wayte was celebrating his 50th birthday when he died Friday night, his family said Saturday morning.
On Saturday, his family was in tears as they recalled the tragedy. "It was his birthday," said Jeri Marshall, Wayte's mother-in-law. "He was going to dinner at Cliff's Rendezvous. He was with his children and his wife."
Wayte's death left his wife Denise and children, Brooke, 24, and Alexandra, 19, devastated, she said.
"He was wonderful," Marshall said.
Peggy Bieselin, Wayte's sister, who lost her husband a month ago, was visiting Riverhead to take her brother to dinner for his birthday and was inside the restaurant. Bieselin said Wayte had gone outside to move the car closer to the curb and was struck as he crossed the street back to the restaurant.
Bieselin said Wayte's family shared their thoughts, remembering the husband and father they loved. "He was devoted to his wife Denise and his two daughters, Brooke and Allie," she said. "He was a big Jets fan, he loved to cook, and he loved his dog, Lucky," she said.
Wayte, who worked at VTP Transmission Parts in Lindenhurst, was a loving and deeply caring man, she said.
Wayte also leaves behind his father, Robert Wayte, and two sisters, Bunny Wayte and Wendy Worytko.
According to Riverhead police, upon responding to a call regarding a motor vehicle accident involving a pedestrian at East Main Street and Union Avenue at 5:40 p.m. on Friday, they arrived to find a male pedestrian pinned beneath a Honda Pilot SUV.
The victim, identified as Wayte, was pronounced dead at the scene by a responding paramedic with the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
According to an investigation conducted at the scene and witness accounts, Wayte was attempting to cross East Main Street from north to south when he was struck by an unknown westbound vehicle and sent into the eastbound lane, where he was struck by a second vehicle, a 2006 Honda Pilot, operated by Ernest Austin, 53, of Glen Rock, Pennsylvania.
Police said Austin continued driving eastbound for a short distance before stopping after he realized he had struck someone. Austin was not charged in relation to the accident.
Wayte's burial is scheduled for Wednesday.