A couple whose car crashed on Sunrise Highway before dawn Saturday did not tell responding deputies that their friend and back-seat passenger was missing — when he’d actually been thrown from the back seat, over a guardrail and onto the ground near the highway’s opposite lanes, where his body was not reported to authorities until after sunup, officials said.
The body of Philip Vatore, 26, was spotted about 6:30 a.m. beneath the Locust Avenue overpass in Bohemia by a motorist heading west who called 911, authorities said.
A recent parolee, Vatore, 26, of Farmingville, had been in the car with driver Shannon Klvnan and her front-seat passenger, Ryan Flinch, both 26 and of Ronkonkoma, who said later that they believed Vatore had fled the scene of the crash to avoid authorities.
“They purposely omit the fact that there was a third person in the car,” Chief Michael Sharkey of the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department said of Klvnan and Flinch. No charges were filed against the two.
Sharkey said Vatore and Flinch had been out drinking together, and at some point called Klvnan to pick them up.
At about 3:30 a.m., Klvnan was driving east on the highway, approaching Exit 48 in Bohemia, officials said. The 2005 Chevy Malibu clipped a left-lane guardrail just before passing beneath the Locust Avenue overpass, and the swerving car stopped about 100 yards east of the overpass, on the south side of the highway.
The Malibu had a blown back windshield and was heavily damaged, but neither Klvnan nor Flinch required hospitalization. The two did not mention to deputies that anyone else had been in the car, authorities said.
A deputy walked back to look where the car had scarred the guardrail, but did not see the body, which had landed across the median on the westbound side and was screened from view by the bulk of the concrete support.
“Basically it was a property-damage accident at that point,” Sharkey said.
Klvnan was not cited and she and Flinch were allowed to leave. The Malibu was towed to a repair shop.
About three hours later, state police investigators linked the body to the earlier car crash and went to the repair shop to impound the vehicle.
Late Saturday afternoon, troopers interviewed Flinch and Klvnan “to confirm what they already suspected, based on evidence at the scene,” Sharkey said.
Both said that Vatore was on parole and that they believed he’d escaped serious injury. It was unclear what, if anything, they said about how he could have fled without their notice.
“It would appear that they believed that he would get in trouble, and it would be better if he wasn’t there,” Sharkey said.
State corrections records show that Vatore was released on parole from a medium-security state prison on Oct. 16. He was convicted in 2000 for felony assault and other charges and sentenced to seven years.
A medical examiner’s representative made a preliminary determination that Vatore died from head injuries.
Deputies’ belief that no one else was in the vehicle and Vatore’s dark clothing may have contributed to his body not being spotted until about three hours later, Sharkey said.
Family members of the three could not be reached Saturday.