Suffolk County police were looking for the driver of a dark-colored car after a man in a wheelchair was struck and killed in West Babylon on Friday night.
Michael Dora, 40, of West Babylon, was in the right southbound lane on Great East Neck Road near Nill Street when the vehicle struck him about 9:15 p.m., police said.
Dora was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip. The driver of the vehicle that struck him fled the scene.
Neighbor Holly McLoughlin, 55, said Dora and his mother had moved into the Fairfield Suburbia Gardens apartment complex, half a mile from the scene of the crash, about a month ago. She said Dora was "very personable, very nice and very friendly," and that he was devoted to his mother's care.
"Here he was in a wheelchair, and he would always tell you, 'If you ever need anything, just let me know,' " McLoughlin said."He was such a nice guy."
She said Dora could often be seen wheeling around the complex and down Great East Neck Road -- so much so that neighbors called him "Speedy." She said he had reflectors on his wheelchair, as well as a bright safety vest to wear at night.
On Saturday morning, Dora's folded, silver wheelchair ramp rested against the steps of his apartment. McLoughlin said Dora set the ramp up every day when he was leaving home and then immediately dismantled it and put it back so it wouldn't be in the way. Neighbor Greg Knight, 54, said the time-consuming feat took Dora about 30 minutes each time. "He was truly self-sufficient," Knight said.
"The first day I met him he introduced himself and said, 'If I make too much noise with my ramp, just let me know,'" McLoughlin recalled, shaking her head. "He was a wonderful man. It's a sin, it really is."Dora's mother, Esther Dora, told News 12 that her son had spina bifida, a birth defect in which the spinal cord does not properly develop.
"Michael was the best son . . . and everybody loved him," Esther Dora told News 12. "He [did] not deserve it . . . Why can't people watch where they're going?"
Police believe the vehicle that hit Dora was dark, possibly a Nissan, and has front-end damage. Anyone with information should call the Vehicular Crime Unit at 631-852-6555 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.