A son went looking for his homeless father and found him dead in a creek by railroad tracks, Glen Cove City police said Friday.
Victor Manuel Alas, 66, was found partially submerged about 4 p.m. Wednesday, his head under water, in a rain-fed stream that runs parallel to Route 107, just south of the railroad overpass, police said.
Alas, a Salvadoran immigrant, appeared to have drowned accidentally, police said, but investigators await autopsy results. Nassau homicide detectives are assisting, Glen Cove police said.
The adult son, whose name was not released, told police that his father was homeless by choice and that they kept in touch regularly, though neither of them had phones.
"Every time he'd see his father on the streets, they'd have lunch or talk," said Officer Eddy Linares, who interviewed the son in Spanish. "He said his father was very funny, very outgoing, a free spirit who wanted to be outside."
This was the way father and son saw each other, ever since the older man came to this country, where he also had a daughter in the Glen Cove area, police said.
This week, the son grew concerned because he hadn't seen his father for two or three days, police said.
"He told me he was walking home from work and decided to find his father," Linares recounted. "As he's walking, he comes upon the father."
The son had walked to a wooded area, one of the places where his father liked to hang out, and saw him in the stream, police said. It's an area where some of the city's homeless hang out sometimes, police said. Alas lay in a part of the creek that's only about 5 feet wide, in water about 2 feet deep, Linares said.
Alas' son then went up the rocky embankment and back onto Route 107, where an officer in a passing patrol car spotted him and told him no pedestrians were allowed on the main thoroughfare, Linares said.
"In his broken English, he told the officer about his father," Linares said, and led the way to the body.
Called to interview the son, Linares gave tissues to the man. "He was physically shaken up," the officer said. "He was hurting, you could tell . . . I thought it was really sad for the son to find his father like that."
Outside, under the sun and stars, was the way Alas had lived since his arrival here, the son had said, Linares recalled.
It left Glen Cove officers mulling why, thinking perhaps it was the way he lived back home in El Salvador.
Alas had other relatives here also, and he turned down offers to live with his family, preferring the streets, police said.
Linares said the son told him, "That's the way he was happy."