Detectives investigating a fatal hit and run in West Islip appealed Wednesday for the public's help in identifying the person who may have had an altercation with a pedestrian in West Islip before running him down and driving away.

Investigators also sought help identifying the vehicle involved.

A reward of up to $5,000 is offered for information that leads to an arrest in the July 2 hit and run that killed construction worker Jason Nelson, 27, of Brightwaters, Suffolk County Crime Stoppers and Third Squad detectives said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS. Calls will be kept confidential.

Detectives gave the following account of that night:

Sometime around midnight on July 2 Nelson "was outside a residence on Sandra Avenue in West Islip when an unknown type of vehicle that was traveling north on the street struck him, knocking him to the ground," police said.

"Nelson suffered severe head injuries and was later pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip," police said.

The driver of the vehicle did not stop or report this crash. Police said they believe the death may have been "preceded by a brief altercation between Nelson" and the person or persons in the vehicle that struck him.

Nelson was initially identified as being 26, but later reports gave his age as 27. He worked in construction and had been staying with his girlfriend at her home on Sandra Avenue, and had just gone out to buy cigarettes, his father, Ronald Nelson, 54, had said.

"It's every parent's nightmare, a phone call in the middle of the night," the father said.

Jason Nelson, who held his first job at age 14 as a restaurant pot washer, worked as a crew leader for a construction company, his father said.

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