By David McCabe
A motor vehicle accident on Thursday afternoon claimed the life of well-known real estate developer Gregg Saunders, 55, a part-time resident of Sagaponack who recently announced plans to revamp the former Plitt Ford dealership in Wainscott into a grocery store or pharmacy.
According to East Hampton Village Police, they received a call at 11:41 a.m. late Thursday morning about a motor vehicle accident on Montauk Highway near Green Hollow Road. Police said the collision occurred when Benjamin Rechler, 19, of Brookville, NY, reached into the backseat of his 2010 Audi station wagon to adjust a surfboard. Rechler allegedly then crossed over into the eastbound lane of traffic on Montauk Highway and struck Saunders’ 2012 Prius head on.
Saunders’ was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital. Rechler was also transported to Southampton Hospital, along with a passenger — a 17-year-old, also from Brookville. Both were treated and released, said police.
Rechler is the son of Mitchell Rechler, a managing partner at Rechler Equities, a real estate development concern based in Plainview, New York. The company has been involved in development projects on the East End, including a business park adjacent to Westhampton’s Gabreski Airport.
“Our family is heartbroken by this horrific tragedy,” said Mitchell Rechler in a statement issued through a representative. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Saunders family.”
Rechler has been issued two traffic summonses — crossing pavement markings and failure to keep right. Chief of the East Hampton Village Police Jerry Larsen said he did not anticipate that any further charges will be filed.
Two other vehicles were involved in the accident, according to police. Police said that a vehicle driven by a 46-year-old resident of Seaford, New York was traveling in the westbound lane and braked suddenly to avoid Saunders’ and Rechler’s collision. A 19-year-old Montauk resident struck the end of that vehicle. Both drivers were uninjured as were four occupants.