During a recent sick leave from his job as a home health aide, Gregory Prince, 56, found a way to stay busy by volunteering with the Salvation Army and ringing bells for donations.
His life of giving came to an end when he was struck and killed in what police are calling a hit-and-run accident, and his family is asking for help in finding the driver.
Prince was found unconscious early Saturday by one of his nephews on the street outside the Bay Shore home he shares with his sister Alveira Thomas and her family, said Det. Sgt. William Rand at a news conference at the Third Squad in Bay Shore Wednesday.
He showed injuries consistent with being struck by a vehicle, perhaps an SUV or a truck, Rand said. Prince died Sunday at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore from head injuries. Police said they had no witnesses.
"Somebody has to know something," his sister said, pleading to the driver of the vehicle that hit Prince to come forward.
Around 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning, Prince set out for a convenience store about half a mile away, Thomas said. He was walking back to the Martinstein Avenue house when he was struck, Rand said.
It was initially unclear what happened to Prince, who lived a few houses from the scene.
But police said they soon determined he had been the victim of a hit-and-run.
A lifelong bachelor, he loved animals and doted on his cat Mullaney, Thomas said.
Prince was the third oldest of eight children, said Thomas, 55, a homemaker, who is the next oldest in the family.
Thomas held up two photos: one taken in the 1970s of a younger Prince, smart in his Army uniform during his service, including a stint in the Panama Canal zone.
The other picture showed him lying unconscious in a hospital bed after he was injured, wearing a neck brace and covered with bruises.
"You got to have some conscience," she said of the driver.
Prince was "one of my favorite uncles," said his nephew Ronald Thomas Jr., 28, at the news conference.
He pledged to scour the area for large trucks or SUVs that appeared to have front-end damage. "The detectives, I believe they will find you," he said.
Police are asking that anyone with information contact Third Squad detectives at 631-854-8352 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.