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Two Killed in Sag Harbor Accident When Car Bursts into Flames

Posted on 13 April 2011

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Two local men were killed on Saturday, April 9, when their car left the road, hit a tree and burst into flames.

At about 3:34 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, the Southampton Town Police responded to the accident on Brick Kiln Road near Pheasant Lane in Noyac.

Investigating officers determined the accident involved a 2006 Ford Mustang owned by Thomas Wheeler, 43, of Sag Harbor, who was a passenger in the car, and driven by Manuel Cunha, 58, of East Hampton. Police reports indicate the car was traveling west along Brick Kiln Road when it crossed over into the eastbound lane, then crossed back into the westbound lane before leaving the roadway and colliding with a tree in the front yard of 871 Brickiln Road. The car then burst into flames.

The Sag Harbor Fire Department and Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps responded to the scene. The fire department extinguished the flames and closed the road for the duration of the investigation, a span of about six hours.

Preliminary determination indicates excessive speed was a contributing factor to the accident. Southampton Town Police are awaiting additional reports from the medical examiner’s office to ascertain if there are any other possible contributing factors.

Both occupants were pronounced dead at the scene and transported to the Suffolk County Medical Examiners Office. Police said that positive identification was made difficult due to the nature of the accident.

Visiting for Manuel Cunha will be at Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor on Wednesday, April 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Visiting for Thomas Wheeler will be at Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor on Thursday, April 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

The Southampton Town Detective Division is continuing the investigation and is requesting anyone that may have information about this or any other crime to please contact the Detective Division at 631-728-5000 or the Police Information Hotline at 631-728-3454.

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130 Responses to “Two Killed in Sag Harbor Accident When Car Bursts into Flames”

  1. Susan King Miller says:

    I would like to express my condolences to both the Cunha and Wheeler families. Although I do not live in Sag Harbor anymore, that is where I was born and raised and my heart and soul will always be there. These were both wonderful, caring men, who deserve to be remembered for who they were and all Sag Harbor natives know who that was. Let the small petty people think what they want, we have risen above them before and we will do it again. Rest in Peace Tommy and Manny, you will never be forgotten by your friends and family, we will keep your memory alive forever more!!

  2. Bonnie Wingate says:

    Amen Susan – Being born and raised in the Harbor is so special and makes us all bonded forever. We support and lift one another up no matter what. That is just the way it is and always should be. God Bless the families of these two hometown men.

  3. John Lawyer says:

    Now that the story has been updated it seems that all the supposed negative posts on the first page about Christine and the wheelbarrow guy are actually based in truth-not speculation.It certainly doesn’t change the enormity of the tragedy nor does it change the fact that the car was indeed traveling at an excessive speed.If you need a designated driver be sure to find one that fits the job description before hand.I’d hope that someone would come forward if this driver was seen drinking prior to this horrible event that evening and that the person who served him is brought to justice.I am so tired of the needless pain and suffering incurred by families and loved ones who are the real victims of tragedies like this.

  4. J.Knowland says:

    To John L. FYI-I know of a resident who was in a small motor vehicle accident some time ago here in Sag Harbor.When the police came to investigate she was found to be over the legal limit for alcohol consumption.In the middle of the day.She was then charged and given a ticket and her vehicle wast towed.It turns out that she was able to cut a deal on the DUI because the place where she was served just happened to be owned by a close relative of the judge who hears those cases here in the harbor.So good luck with the notion of bringing anyone to justice for not taking the keys away from anyone they’ve just snookered with alcohol.

  5. erin w says:

    omg! when you play with fire this is what happens. a grown responsible adult doesn’t go over 100 mph in the middle of the day. for all those people mad at christine, pls. how would you feel if you had to bury your loved one cause these dopes decided to be careless!!!!! im sure the test will show what was in there system…….

  6. Jake says:

    Does anybody know where these guys were right before and leading up to the accident
    at 3:34 PM? I hope someone has the B@ll$ to come forward and ante up the goods.
    As sad as one can be for the victims these 2 guys left behind there might be someone
    still alive who knows what they were doing before the accident. I don’t discriminate when it comes to an adult acting like a child or worse.2006 mustang or 2011 Lamborghini -I don’t care! You better not cross my path or my families path when you
    drive on my street at those speeds.I will follow you and crush you much more than hitting a tree at 100MPH.

  7. Betty Langlin says:

    Jake-get off your high horse .Your not dead ….they ARE! Your family is healthy and happy…there’s arent. Never in my life have I seen such disrespect for the dead.If they were alive and acting irresponsibly driving too fast etc and I had the opprotunity to call them out on it thats one thing.But they are dead now and it’s too late.We’ve lost our chance to set them straight.Theres no excuse for speaking ill of the dead no matter what they may have done when alive including choking someone when trying to steal there wheelbarrow or driving a car at 100 mph in the middle of the day when children are out at play and families are driving on the very road they chose to use as there personal race track.Whats done is done.I’m OK your OK and just thank your lucky stars for that if you do in fact live on that street where they crashed at high speed that you werent in your front yard watering the flowers around that tree at the time they crashed into it.Get some manners boy.And work on your feeble way of expressing your irrational thoughts.Just look at all the testimonies from people who knew these two guys.They all have good things to say about them.I think THAT overides any other things that may or not have happened-including any old police business or recent traffic accidents they were involved in on your street! I hope you get help beacuz you sure enough need it.

  8. Lon Parisi says:

    I can not believe the commentary some be feel obligated to contribute. Very disappointing. I’ve seen all the “Imagine if happened. Wouldn’t that be horrible?” comments and its really old at this point.
    The answer: Yes! It would be horrible if even more people were hurt. You win. Can we move on now please? I said please.

    Let me give the haters some facts.
    Fact 1: Two guys are no longer on this earth due to a car accident.
    Fact 2: They were the only ones affected
    Fact 3: No one knows why the crash happened
    Fact 4: There are now many people that are mourning over these two losses.
    Fact 5: No one has identified themselves as the toxicologist or Crime Scene Investigator responsible for the case so we don’t know what the facts are regarding reasons behind the accident.

    Let me give some what-ifs just so we have a complete perspective.
    What if: the driver had a heart attack that caused the crash.
    What if: there was a mechanical failure with the car that caused the excessive speed.
    What if: the crash was caused because the driver was trying to avoid a neighborhood dog in the road.

    We can go on, but I think the point is made. No one will really know what happened except the two that are no longer with us.

    But really, if you think you still need to spread the hateful opinion, I have a reasonable suggestion. Please use this opportunity to tell the families/friends left behind how you feel. The funeral services for the two people no longer with us are posted within the article right at the top of this web page. I’d like to you please attend the service and tell their parents, their wives, their kids, their friends what horrible people the really were. They’ll all be in one place. Each has an afternoon service and an evening service on Wednesday and Thursday, so you’ll get two shots for each person. Please do society a favor and right this wrong. I’m sure you’ll have a captive audience…unless you have something better to do.

  9. Staci Otto-Martin says:

    Nice again, Lon. @Jake…yes, I know where they were…they were working. Look forward to meeting you at Tommy’s service if you have the guts to show your face. You must have some swing at 100mph and be full of yourself all at the same time. Quite the catch you must be. Yuck…

  10. Larry Sweet says:


    Thanks for the laughter over the years. You really contributed so much to Sag Harbor — such as sports, small business and great friendships. Your legacy lives on through your children, family and friends.

  11. Staci Otto-Martin says:

    Erin…YOU are the dope for making such a stupid comment.

  12. Daisy King Miller says:

    I do not know the people who died and do not live in Sag Harbor.I did visit Sag Harbor as a child long ago when my dad was a merchant marine.He always loved coming there and thought one day we could stay for good.I am so sorry about what happened.I wound up growing up in a big city and always wondered what it would have been like to grow up in a place like Sag Harbor.Just by reading all the responses to this news story I can tell that I really missed out on a great opportunity of having a sense of community.A place where people stick together and not let anyone change their minds on what they believe in.It’s all part of the plan and faith keeps us together. You’ve really got something there-a community that cares.I’m sure that the children of those two men involved in the car accident will have all the good advice and support they need growing up from all the friends that these 2 people seemed to have had.I see there are some people that did not know them leaving comments.It seems that they have their own agenda and aren’t really helping out with the things that are needed now. They seem like the kind of people I had to be around growing up.I never could understand those people.Always having a smart answer and never having the time for a kind thing to say.If I was the wife or child of one of these persons who died in the car accident I’d feel pretty bad hearing
    these things about what if my child was hurt by them and how could they do such a thing.I hope they can find the strength to just remember the good things that their friends have given testimony to and not dwell on the unfortunate accident they had.
    Is there really any good in criticizing these 2 men at this point?I just hope that those left in the community who promise to help the surviving family members have the skills to guide the children to making smarter choices than their fathers without losing that special small town community spirit.Otherwise it really doesn’t matter if they stay in a small town or move to the big city.They will have lost either way.

  13. Lance Ponce says:

    I think the article may have given the wrong impression.”Preliminary determination indicates excessive speed was a contributing factor to the accident.” It is possible that the driver could have had a heart attack and put his foot on the accelerator or that it got stuck between shifts as he swerved to miss a dog etc. etc. and the passenger was not able to correct the problem and get the car safely to the side of the road.My feeling is that whatever the cause for this accident it’s time to focus on the living and not the dead.So everyone participating in this discourse should keep that in mind for the moment.For all those needing to know more you’ll have your day when the results of the investigation and autopsies are published.

  14. Shannon Early-Tait says:

    Nicely put Lon.
    I see a lot of soapbox comments and I understand that some need any opportunity to grandstand their own views. I am thankful for our right to free speech but am gravely disappointed in the lack of respect towards Tommy and Manny’s families. But as I commented earlier, the more the haters abound the stronger we hold our ground. During times of tragedy, we crawl out of the woodwork, from under our shells, we find our way back to whats most Sag Harbor is a family. So, to the negatives and nasties, THANK YOU for that reminder.

  15. I posted much earlier on this blog, and had no intention of making another comment. I said what I had to say, and I felt that would be sufficient.

    That being said, after reading more posts than I have ever seen on the Sag Harbor Express website, I feel compelled to add a few more thoughts.

    First of all, this is a local issue. Let’s define local. My definition of local, is someone who can go to a Sag Harbor cemetery and find at least one of their grandparents buried there. Everyone else is just a Johnnie Come Lately, or a wannabe. I can trace my roots here to the sixteen hundreds, so if you have an issue with me, bring it on!

    Secondly, this is a blog to offer support and solace to the families involved. If anyone has an issue with law enforcement, or with individuals who escape prosecution for perceived “connections” find another venue.

    To all those who appear to be running for the presidency of MADD to wit: (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) it’s gratifying to know that there are individuals out there who consider themselves such icons of individual responsibility. Let he or she who is without sin cast the first stone. Didn’t I read recently that a president or past president of MADD was convicted of driving while intoxicated? Like Yogi Berra said, “You could look it up!” Yes,it would have been tragic had innocents been hurt, but none were. In my life time, there have been dozens of alcohol related deaths in this area. I’m not condoning drinking and driving. I used a lot of bad judgment when I was younger. Fortunately I survived. To the best of my knowledge, it has yet to be proven that this was an alcohol related tragedy. Yet, even if it were, it still does not justify espousing vitriol or personal opinions that pertain to anything other than offering condolences to the families. If you want that forum, use Letters To The Editor.

    I have know the Cunha’s all my life. Manny Sr. was my dad’s friend for many years. His wife Fran used to babysit for me before her marriage. Manny Jr. and I played many games of pool in the old Black Buoy. I dated his sister Sharon, and shared an apartment with his sister Lauren in California. My bother and sister went to school with all the Cunha children.

    Tommy Wheeler’s brother Dave has been working in my house for several months, and although I didn’t know Tommy well, I consider Dave a personal friend. My heart cries for him. I have a brother too.

    I had to get this off my chest. Manny, Tommy, the old guard will never forget you. You’ll always be in our thoughts and memories. We’ll always think of the good times.

    May Ye Arse Be In Heaven, Afore Thee Devil Knows Yer Gone! Rest In Peace Boys!

  16. John S. says:

    AS a full time resident of Sag HarborI just wanted to extend my condolences to all the family and friends of the deceased.I feel a bit strange now having read Jim’s post about having to have a grandparent buried here to qualify as a local and for not being a johny come lately or a wannabe of Sag Harbor.I just want to live here in peace and I if I wanted to be somewhere else I’d leave.I love this place but now I’m feeling a bit disenchanted by the provincial territorialism of someone who has roots here going back a few generations.Is my son doomed for a lifetime here as full time resident but his son can claim legitimacy as a local when he can visit me at oakwood cemetery? I guess it may be time to reconsider my love for this place.It’s really a shame how people can be so cruel and heartless when so many are grieving.True love and compassion are timeless and without boundaries.We have seen many changes in this country’s 2 centuries of growth and things like federalism confederacy slavery and womens suffrage are fleeting moments in time and now your idea of what a “local” of Sag harbor should be will be added to that list as history moves forward. I wonder what the first white settlers here in the harbor would think of your criteria if they weren’t part of the Algonquin Indian tribes.They’d be up a creek without a paddle for sure.I am related to one of the signers of the Constitution of the United States.Do I trump you as an American? Does that trump being a “local” of Sag Harbor? Do I care? Yes I do and I hope that you do too. It’s time to stop hating that which you do not really know and better yet stop hating altogether.You’ll live longer and have a much better life in this beautiful town.

  17. Old Sag Harbor says:

    John S.

    All the real local’s know it’s Oakland Cemetery, not Oakwood!

  18. Alexis says:

    Ok Jim but in case you haven’t noticed it is 2011 not 1600. The world has evolved slightly. People move to new places and come and go for many reasons, that certainly does not make them NOT a part of the community and mean they have no right to an opinion. Just because someone does not agree with you does not make them wrong, ever heard of Freedom of Speech? And for the record, my family has lived here for many generations as well. If someone lives here wether it be for a year or 1000 they have every right to have an opinion about people driving in their community recklessly.

    This was a horrible tragedy and awful for their loved ones, Hopefully this reminds people the dangers of acting irresponsibly and being careless. Driving over 100 mph anywhere drinking or not is stupid and dangerous, that is a fact. And IF they were drinking it is even worse.

  19. New Sag Harbor says:

    In my 15 years of being a full time resident here I have never heard such an interesting dialog between the “old guard” and the neo locals (those without Sag Harbor ancestral burial ground) roots.Although I was born (and my fathers fathers) in Shelter Island and can spell all of the cemeteries correctly I too would fail the test of being local. Something I always considered myself to be before reading these posts.I thought long and hard about this and came to the conclusion that maybe this is a good thing.Like in all evolution species adapt or die out. Maybe its time for nature to run its course and forgo the adaptation phase on this issue so that those who remain can all live together
    as “locals” with something much larger to have in common than purely a legacy of buried ancestors.

  20. Judi Bistrian says:

    Such a senseless tragedy…. regardless of the circumstances of that fateful day we should (for now) be directing our prayers and energy to the wife without a husband, the children without a father, the siblings without a brother and the many family members that are the ones left behind to suffer. Enough with the taking sides.. locals vs. non-locals. we are all human. God Bless.

  21. Dorene(Harter)Decoteau says:

    Whether or not alcohol was involved is beside the point. I, too lost a brother to a car crash..these families may learn to live with the hurt but they will never get over it….My heart goes out to them…

  22. Dana M says:

    And with that thought I hope we can put both our opinions and these two men to rest.

  23. dolores says:


    Just to clarify, this is not a blog to offer solace to the family and friends left behind by this tragedy, one that thankfully did not impact more people as it very well could have. This is a place to offer opinions about a news story. or perhaps a Facebook memorial is the place to offer solace and comments that are not deemed supportive can be prevented from being publicized.

  24. Edna says:

    Thank you Dolores for that clarification.I was confused as well by the posts from some contributors which made me feel I could not participate in this forum.I’m glad to see I’m not alone.With that I would like to add my prayers to the numerous already sent for the surviving loved ones and their close friends.God doesn’t discriminate either- he just allows others to do so with the hope that they will find redemption.God bless to all.

  25. Phil says:

    I met Tommy through Kerry Zlobec who we also lost far too soon. Like Kerry, Tommy had authenticity, and a playfulness that was infectious.

    Everyone could forget their troubles when around them.

    Sag Harbor is a little less funny, and a little less friendly today.

    We should fill the void left with his passing by keeping his spirit of community alive.

  26. BRENT P. BECKER says:

    Regardless of what one may assume. These two good guys are no longer with us and left many family members and countless friends behind.We should all take a step back and take a close look at our own and embrace life.This surely was a tragic accurence.God forbid it happens to one your own or mine for that matter.I hope they are now resting peacefully in a better place.Peace and Love to there families.

  27. just got back from the wake i brought a little cheer to mannys family had nothing but good storys about him.he will be greatly missed .It was a sad time but his family is strong. it was good to see his family there they are also the best caring loving people to grace this earth god bless manny junior and god bless his father manny senior u will be missed long live the great memorys and god be with us all . AMEN see ya tommorrow god willing!!!!!

  28. After reading some of the rhetoric from those who are making all of this about themselves, whether it be about their precious Sag Harbor ‘roots’ or pseudo detective theories – enough! I feel compelled to write a few words about Tommy. I have known him for about 9 years, having met him through one of his closest friends, my nephew Lon. The last time I saw Tommy was early February at a family and friends gathering – happy and full of fun. I’ll remember him that way. I was so shocked and saddened to hear of this horrific accident, and found it disturbing to learn the traumatic way his life ended. No-one deserves this. Let’s put in perspective what has happened in the wake of all this: children who are left without a father. May I offer my heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends, especially to Lon, who was with him shortly before that fateful hour, and who will miss him beyond words.

  29. E.M.Maxx says:

    No on can deny this: Tommy wheeler was a funny dude!!!!! As I said in an earlier post he ALWAYS put a smile on my face. I’ve been thinking back to some really funny incidents that of course I can’t post but it helps get past the pain and shock of his passing. RIP

  30. Judi B says:

    Just to clarify. This ‘blog’ is within the realm of ‘freedom of speech’. If people want to offer condolances to the family, who are YOU to say it’s not the place? Last time I checked we live in a free country with no restrictions on what site we want to ‘blog’. AMEN.

  31. johnyonthespot says:

    WOW! What is the problem here. Hasn’t anyone ever posted on a blog before? You can say anything you want whether its topic related or not.There are some federal laws prohibiting that which directly threatens a named persons life etc. but just about everything else is covered by free speech constitutional law.This is a public forum.I actually thought the post from dolores was intended as being helpful for those who couldn’t understand this concept and why people were submitting posts other than straightforward condolences.It actually might be a better idea to set up a forum as she suggested for those who want to share their thoughts. memories, sympathies etc. in addition to using this site if they wish for their condolences to the family. It sure would eliminate any more opportunity for bad blood between those who are not related but have an opinion about the event as presented here in this paper as a news item.I doubt if any of those contributors who have responded to this as a news story would visit a site dedicated to the memory of Tommy and Manny. And if they did the moderator could simply remove anything found inappropriate for the intention of the site. I hope someone out there reading this has the basic skills to set this up for the family.I’m sure they would appreciate it.

  32. MaryLou says:

    I’ll bet one of the kids at Pierson could handle it.How about it kids? Anyone game to put in some time to help out?

  33. erin w says:

    staci- no reason for excessive speed at that time of day…..again, lucky they didn’t kill anyone else!!!!!! grown men doing something dumb…two deaths that didn’t have to happen but did…

  34. dolores says:

    Judi B,

    I just said that this is not a site specifically for posting sympathy notes as Jim seems to think. It is to post opinions regarding a news story. If your opinion is you are sad for the family and friends, post away, I agree wholeheartedly that this is a place for freedom of speech. The man I was speaking to seems to think that this site is not a place to post anything that may be upsetting for the family and friends to see. There are sites where that can be done, this isn’t one of them.

  35. Jake again says:

    Now that we’ve aired out a bit of the laundry here i’d just like to say that the healing process seems to have begun.3 more steps and most of us will be done with it.If you can lend a hand or a kind word on the street to the survivors in each of these families
    then that would be a righteous act of mercy appreciated by all.Everyone is eligible and you don’t need to let that guy with the “local” fetish know that your family is really from New Jersey.He probably wouldn’t care anyway as long as you were buying.

  36. Amy Unangst says:

    Rest in peace Manny & Tommy…Bless your families and the people’s lives you touched.

    I won’t even address the one-namers…the disrespect puts me in the mind of Westboro Baptist.

  37. Sag Harbor neighbor says:

    Let’s grieve properly for this loss of life, the sadness in the hearts of the families.

    Let us all learn from this as well. Automoblies are lethal weapons…to others and ourselves.

    Let’s as a community commit to stop texting and dialing phones while driving. Let’s commit to stop speeding. Let’s honor the deceased’s lives by respecting the automobile.

  38. Dellmore Basquin lll says:

    If I had a nickel (for every person I see behind the wheel of a car out here on a daily basis with a cell phone permanently glued to their ear) I could afford a lunch special at Provisions.The biggest heartbreak for me in all of these posts is that not ONE person who knew these guys have mentioned anything about how foolish and irresponsible they acted on that fateful day. Only how great they were with kids and always had a smile…
    What the heck are they telling their kids about this incident? Are these two being elevated as heros? Sometimes I feel I’m in a Sam Peckinpah film living out here.That tells me that this story isn’t over yet.Be careful on the road because there are more accidents and tragedies waiting to happen.

  39. Lon Parisi says:

    I’m so sick and tired of the haters.

    In case you missed the Cuhna services today, you still have time to visit Tommy’s kids, family, and friends. Again, two shots 2-4 and 7-9 at Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor. I’ll be at the 2-4 service and I’d love to meet the haters and share my perspective about Tom Wheeler with you. Actually, it will probably be your first time knowing anything about this great guy, so you may find it interesting. You’ll be further enlightened when you meet his family. I’ll introduce you to the parents, Bob and Fran, the brothers Bill and David, his sister Debbie, and Tom’s children Thomas, Lukas and Mason. These are people I have known most of my adult life and treat them as my own family. You’d actually like them. Really, they are nice people.

    As for the free speech advocates, we are all about free speech here. No one is denying any one’s right to express their feelings. However, you should not feel slighted when compassionate people seem touchy when others insinuate that these guys got what they deserve. I really wonder why the haters are even participating in this blog. Can’t you think of better ways to improve yourself or your self image rather than slamming people who are not longer around? What did either of these two men ever do to you perosnally that makes you hate them so much? Actually, I hope they have wronged you at some point. It would explain the distain you have for them.

    Having said that, let me exercise my right to free speech: Can anyone please show me scientific toxicology evidence with respect to alcohol or speed analysis that supports a 100 MPH speed at impact? Anyone? Please? I think there is a lot of rumor and perception associated with these “facts”. If no one has that information, please stop stating it as fact. It makes you look stupid. Actually, that may be harsh. It makes you look ignorant. For those who don’t know the difference in definition between stupid and ignorant, go to The old “he looks guilty” reason based on no pertinent information is, by definition, ignorant. It’s not fact no matter how loud you scream, use capital letters in your writings, or bring imaginary possibilities into the discussion.

    However, all is not lost. I believe all the haters can really help society get through this tragedy. I am going to suggest all the haters meet on Long Wharf right after they’ve finished explaining to the families why the people killed in this accident should be demonized. Please pile in to one car, drive in to one of your garages (your choice), close the garage door, leave the car running, stay in the car, and wait about 20 minutes. There are two things that are going to happen. The people involved in Saturday’s accident will still be missed. Haters, who have followed the instructions, will have left this earth and will not be missed at all. Actually, their passing will probably be celebrated. Haters, please help society accomplish this most important goal of euthanizing yourselves. Unlike to people killed last Saturday, the world will be a better place without you. If you’re not sure about the statistics of public perception, I’m sure we can take a straw poll. How’s that for free speech.

    Tommy, you have helped shape who I am to this day and for that I owe you an eternal gratitude. Your family always treated me like family and I hope you felt the same way about mine. I have nothing but love for you, your family, and anyone you were/are connected to. I will do my best to help take care of the people you have left behind. I know if the situation were reversed, you would do the same for me. Rest easy my friend. Your kids/family will be safe as long as I am on this earth. I promise you that. I’ll see you tomorrow for one last good bye.

    Again, how’s that for free speech.

  40. Angie Parker says:

    If you feel that people in the community that want to be safe from oncoming cars spinning out of control at an excessive speed (investigators words-not mine) are haters then I suppose you are right…. I really really hate when that happens.Especially when my 2 infants are in the car with me.I don’t even think hate would be a strong enough word to describe the feeling one would have when they are about to die at the hands of reckless driver. Tommy’s brother refers to this tragedy in the context of a “joy ride.” Is he a hater too? If someone outside of your bubble used this term would you think of them as a hater too? Do you actually think anyone and I do mean ANYONE wanted to see either of these two people die and leave their loved ones (including you) greiving?If you really think that then I hope there is someone close by to help you through this time of greif.If not for your own sake then at least for those who love you.

  41. LocalNonHatingActuary says:

    Lon -its time to give yourself a break on this and stop beating yourself up over the details.We all read the official release that Southampton investigators don’t have the training to pinpoint the exact speed of the car at the time of the crash.What they have revealed is that excessive speed was the determining factor in the crash, skids marks on both sides of the road indicating the onset of the car going out of control at high speed, a small piece of chassis they could barely recognize as a motor vehicle wrapped around the tree and the engine thrown 30 feet away from that tree upon impact. Throwing a near 300 pound engine 30 feet should give you an idea of the force/speed required .Without bringing in a number cruncher from MIT I think we can agree that the car was going way too fast.I’m not going to even introduce a number but anyone of sound mind and a little experience in accident investigation based on the forensic data at the scene would think they were looking at a very high speed highway crash.This was no fender bender at the posted speed limit.So please give yourself a break on that point.You’ve got that 100MPH from a Hater thing locked so tight together in your head that it’s clouding your reasoning.Whether alcohol or any other substance was involved is a moot point and I really doubt that anyone cares about that as the other details are enough to make the point for those you continually refer to as haters even though they are just concerned loving neighbors you have not yet met.I can only imagine the pain you are suffering right now. Writing down your feelings is a good first step in the healing process.Just know that no one hates Manny or Tommy or you for defending their honor and family.Its natural and healthy for you to be angry at someone.I wish only the best for you and know that you will do everything you can for Tommy’s family.Get some rest.You’re no good to anyone unless you can function.

  42. peter strickland says:

    This is such a tragedy. Sag will not be the same. These were good men that added so much to the community. For those that are mourning, I’m with you. For those who didn’t know these men and are making “political comments” I understand but please be kind to those who are grieving. Let’s remember no matter which group you fall into we are all trying to make sense of the emotional confusion caused by this tragedy, be it expressed as grief or anger. In Tom’s and Manny’s memory let’s give someone we love a hug.

  43. Staci Otto-Martin says:

    Thank you Peter…Erin…Excessive speed…never a good thing…we all know that,however,it might be wise to choose your words a little more carefully. For the many many people who cared about these men there is no need for name calling at this point. It doesn’t help it hurts. No need to add to the pain.

  44. Lon Parisi says:

    Yeah I guess I should give it up now. What’s the difference anyway. I just can’t see a car going 100 MPH hitting a tree and leaving virtually no damage to the tree. I would have thought a car going that fast would have snapped that tree in half or at least knocked some of the bark off. Just seems strange to me. But what do I know. It’s speculation. From talking to a friend who used to study this type of stuff, a 30 MPH crash head on into a wall is pretty much going to be fatal.

  45. Sue DePetris says:

    Dellmore Basquin lll, How do you know that anyone of us who have been grieving the tragic death of our two friends, have not wondered what they were thinking that day…I have asked myself that many times since that day. But, I am sick to my stomach about this whole thing, and i know that everyone one of us who knew them feel the same numbness. We are in shock and disbelief. This is not the time to be crucifying them on speculations of what may or may not have happened. We, who knew them, are right now worrying about the children that are left behind, who will be asking themselves these questions for the rest of their lives. But on their last day on earth, whatever they may have been thinking, that ONE day, even their last minutes, does not make them bad people. Not heroes, but good people.
    Love you Tommy, I will miss you.

  46. Sue DePetris says:

    And Lon, stop worrying about these people. Not worth it.

  47. Lon Parisi says:

    Naw, Billy’s not a hater. He may have just been on the spot for a word with the reporter and meant to use a slightly different word.

    Here’s the definition of joyride: a ride taken for pleasure in a car, esp in a stolen car driven recklessly

    Since the car was not stolen and the owner was a passenger, probably doesn’t fit the definition. Billy probaby meant to equate a joyride with the first part: a ride taken for pleasure in a car.

    I’ll ask him later.

  48. Annie Morgan-Rosch says:

    @Jim Christensen…Amen brother. My sister and I were born in Southampton Hospital. Our Grandmother, Irene York, died there. We have as many relatives, (including our Mother Sandi and my best friend & cousin, Lori Antonino) buried on Oakland as we do still living in Sag Harbor. Our Mother, Aunts and Uncle and Fran Cunha were first cousins. I can recall the Cunha’s kitchen with serious accuracy. I also did not know Tommy well, but know Dave. I went to Manny’s funeral today and my heart broke for his family. It is sad, tragic and beyond painful for his sisters and brother. For his mother. For his son. For his Partner. What, why, how, etc. are not important at this point. The loss is traumatic, wrenching and everlasting for both families and friends. And Susan, you are right. We are natives, we are family. I am proud to be a Sag Harbor native. I am proud of the memories I have of our Town and of Manny and the Cunha family. We pull together and “circle the wagons” when needed, and that is a gift that is rare these days. See you all at Pierson this Saturday. Hail the Scarlet and the Black!

  49. transplanted new yorker says:

    Another sad tragic story! Through the years many have been lost on these roads.Pointing fingers doesn’t bring them back.Whether it was their fault or not, its still lives lost forever.It’s the people that are left behind who suffer the most.It changes your life forever.It changes who you areas a person.You go forward but always want to go back.Say the things you never said & regret the things you may have said. I’ve been gone 10yrs. but always want to come home.As for being local. I spent most of my childhood there and my brother lays in oakland cemetery.Sag Harbor was home.It doesn’t matter how anyone dies. The hurt these families are feeling stays forever.(Its no longer about them, its about the people they left behind.)Have some respect,their children & family members are the ones who are left behind and have to go through the deepest pain that they will ever have to bare.And that’s loosing a loved one!

  50. Bruce B says:

    I concur with Lon Parisi’s remarks above, about the 100 MPH speed. No official statement was ever made that the vehicle was travelling at 100 MPH or in excess thereof. How could such a statement be made? The police didn’t clock the vehicle. Brick Kiln Road would not even permit an operator in attaining that rate of speed. Only a madman would attempt a speed like that and I know Manny and he was not a madman.

    That being said, I saw the accident scene the next day and the skid marks do, as the police said, indicate excessive speed for that roadway. It does not indicate 100 MPH or even 60 MPH. The fact that Manny braked until impact with the tree indicates he aware of the loss of control of the vehicle and impending impact,and did not suffer some form of physical impairment such as a CVA, heart attact, etc. as some here have speculated.

    The fact that the vehicle was in the oncoming lane of traffic prior to swerving back into it’s proper lane and then continuing to follow the same path right off the roadway into a small tree would indicate that something went terribly wrong in the final couple of seconds. My own opinion is that the vehicle no doubt was being operated at excessive speed as police said, and a deer may have run out in front of the vehicle, causing him to swerve and lose control of the vehicle.

    Also the speculation that alcohol was involved is purely that, speculation. Until the toxicology report is issued by the ME’s office, no one can say alcohol or any other chemical was a contributing factor.

    Comments about being drunk and driving 100 MPH as I have read in this column are just plain ignorant gossip at this time, as there are no facts yet to support it.

    My condolences to the Cunha and Wheeler families.

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