A Huntington man spent five and a half hours in his overturned car Tuesday morning after police say he veered off the road and into a wooded embankment near West Neck Road in Huntington.
Three Lloyd Harbor police units investigating reports of the accident at 12:40 a.m. missed the man, 50 feet off the road in the woods alone in his car, until around 6 a.m., according to Det. Vincent O'Shaughnessy of Lloyd Harbor Police. Joye Brown, a Newsday columnist, said she noticed the man as she was heading for a morning swim.
The man, who told witnesses his name was William Mulligan, told police he was driving his red sedan on West Neck Road around 12:40 a.m. Tuesday when he swerved to avoid a car, O'Shaughnessy said. Within moments, his car slid off the road, down a hill, and slammed into a tree, police said. When the car came to a stop, it was flipped over and Mulligan remained inside injured.
O'Shaughnessy said soon after the accident an anonymous caller told police of a crash in the area.
Three police units responded and searched the area in the darkness for 20 to 25 minutes but did not find evidence of a crash, he said.
"It was all dark," O'Shaughnessy said. "[The car] was unable to be seen from the roadway."
Around 6 a.m., Brown said she was driving along West Neck Road to meet friends for a morning swim when she spotted something that she later realized was a car in a wooded area off the road. Brown and two other friends, Carol Moore and Carole Wickham, made their way down the embankment, saw the overturned sedan and called 911. They then flagged down another passing motorist, who alerted Lloyd Harbor police, she said.
Moore, who was the first to reach the vehicle, found Mulligan inside, bleeding, but conscious. "He said he was cold," Moore said. The friends covered him with a blanket and waited for police. "He was calm."
Along the road, the car's path tore through the brush, Moore said. "It was like a debris field," she said. "One of the wheels had come off . . . the headlight assembly was ripped off."
Lloyd Harbor police, the Huntington Fire Department and the Huntington Community First Aid Squad responded to the scene, O'Shaughnessy said. Mulligan was transported to Huntington Hospital, where he is being treated for nonlife-threatening injuries, O'Shaughnessy said.
"I'm very grateful that we were there and that Joye's sharp eye saw a glimpse of his car," Moore said. "It could have been very different."
Mulligan's son, also named William Mulligan, said his father had undergone surgery and was still in the hospital.