A motorcyclist who fell off his bike caused a three-car crash on the Southern State Parkway on Saturday morning, causing a sedan to end up beneath a sport utility vehicle and sending three injured people to hospitals, officials said.
The accident occurred westbound in the left lane about 7:45 a.m. in West Hempstead, between exits 17 and 18, according to Trooper Edward Kuhn.
"It looked a lot worse than it was," said Kuhn, who responded to the scene. "One car rear-ended the SUV, so it went under it a little bit."
A 1992 Toyota Camry was at the front of the chain-reaction crash, Kuhn said, its driver slamming on the brakes after the motorcyclist fell in an attempt to avoid him. The driver of a 2014 Jeep Compass behind the Toyota also suddenly stopped, not allowing enough time for the driver of a 2008 Nissan Altima to slow down.
The crash's impact left the back of the Jeep on top of the front of the Nissan, covering its hood and part of the roof, when it pushed the front of the Jeep forward, tapping the Toyota, Kuhn said.
The three people sent to the hospital had "little to no injury at all," and all were released by Saturday afternoon, Kuhn said. The parkway was shut down for about 15 minutes until police could move the crashed vehicles to the right-shoulder and open one lane to allow traffic to flow through, he said.
Drivers on the parkway did not get the license plate number of the motorcyclist, and state troopers have not been able to track down the rider down. They checked hospitals for injured bikers, but found no one.
"He wasn't involved but he basically caused it," Kuhn said of the motorcyclist. "No one got a plate or knew who he was."
Criminality was not suspected as of Saturday afternoon, Kuhn said, and no tickets were issued.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong time of the accident due to incorrect information from police.