A 21-year-old man on a motorcycle was struck by a vehicle, dragged more than 500 feet underneath and then left in the middle of the road in a late-night hit-and-run Friday, according to eyewitness and police accounts.
Lee Lopez, a 21-year-old Rocky Point man, was riding east on Route 25A in Wading River when his motorcycle was rear-ended by a vehicle behind him, according to police. Both Lopez and his bike went under the vehicle, which proceeded to drag him at least 500 feet down the road without stopping before Lopez came loose from the undercarriage, according to Lopez’s father, who spoke with several eyewitnesses.
“If it were not for the people who ran over to help him, my son would not be here right now,” Shawn Lopez said in an interview today.
An eyewitness driving west on Route 25A passed the vehicle while it was dragging Lee Lopez and his bike underneath. “The driver never slowed down. They just kept accelerating,” Lopez said. The eyewitness said the impact was “like an explosion,” with sparks streaming from the back of the vehicle as it dragged the young man and his bike, according to Lopez.
He finally came loose after about 200 yards, Lopez said. The vehicle then drove off, leaving Lee lying in the middle of the roadway.
“Cars were speeding by going 60 miles per hour, my son was just lying there in the middle of the road, and that person left him for dead,” Shawn Lopez recalled, his voice shaking with emotion.
The eyewitness parked her car, ran to Lee’s body and stood over him, waving at passing vehicles to keep them from hitting him, Lopez said. Several other people stopped to help before Wading River Fire Department EMTs arrived on the scene.
“All these people orchestrated one of the best rescues of a person I’ve ever heard of,” Shawn Lopez said, beginning to cry. “I’ve probably saved a dozen people in my life, and finally someone did it for me.”
Lee’s helmet was split in two from the incident. He was wearing a heavy aviation jacket that is now in tatters. “If you look at the wreckage, if you hear the accounts of the people who were there, if you look at his split helmet and his safety clothing – there is no reason that my son should not be in a box,” Shawn said.
Lee suffered a concussion and internal bleeding as well as several fractures and abrasions from the incident, according to his father. He is currently being treated at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Shawn Lopez, who lives in Maine, was preparing for an operation to treat a cancerous tumor this week when he got the call about his son. “It was 1:36 in the morning, and half an hour later I was in my truck, driving down to Long Island,” Shawn said.
Lee Lopez grew up in Rocky Point and works at Neptune Farms in Calverton. His father described him as a popular young man, with a contagious laugh and a big and loving heart. “Lee is one of the most compassionate young men on the planet,” said Shawn. “He will go out of his way to help anybody. I honestly believe he’s a very old soul.”
Lopez is offering a cash reward for information leading to the arrest of the driver. The crash happened just after 11:30 p.m. Friday near Darkside Haunted House, and between the darkness and the foggy conditions of the evening, eyewitnesses did not get a good look at the vehicle before it fled the scene.
“I want this person to know that if they hide, wherever they go, they can’t run from their conscience,” Lopez said. “Their conscience is going to be cruel to them. It’s going to eat them alive. If this person comes out of hiding, I will forgive them.”