Member of Shinnecock Indian Nation dies in ATV accident

Brian Bess Jr., 20, a member of the Brian Bess Jr., 20, a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, died after he was driving an ATV on private property on the reservation off Little Beach Road in Southampton, when he hit a parked vehicle, then a telephone pole, State Trooper Richard Gantt said. Photo Credit: Family handout

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A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, who had survived a serious car accident that killed two others in 2012, died Saturday after he lost control of his all-terrain vehicle and crashed, his family and New York State Police said Sunday.

Brian N. Bess Jr., 20, was driving an ATV on the reservation off Little Beach Road in Southampton at 4:13 p.m. when he hit a parked vehicle, then a telephone pole, State Trooper Richard Gantt said.

Bess' grandmother, Diane Smith, said Sunday the young man had lost control of the ATV as he turned a corner. He was conscious after the crash and taken to Southampton Hospital for treatment, Gantt said.

Bess, who suffered multiple traumas and internal bleeding along with a leg injury, was then supposed to be flown to Stony Brook University Hospital, but had to be diverted to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center when his condition deteriorated, Gantt said.

He was pronounced dead at that hospital, according to Gantt.

Members of his family gathered Sunday to grieve and plan memorial services for Bess.

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"He was loving. He had a beautiful smile," Smith said.

Bess' aunt, Tonya Bess-Hodges, called him "a beautiful Shinnecock young man," and said the family had donated his organs.

"He was our soul and our spirit," she said. "He was always smiling and happy."

Bess had faced a grueling recovery from injuries in a 2012 auto crash just outside the reservation that killed two other members of the tribe.

"He just went way before his time," said his grandfather, Fred Bess. "We expected to just share a full life with him and his next generation, and that was just cut short."

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