Hamptons Developer Dies in Crash; Son of Top LI Developer Cited

Cops: Benjamin Rechler, son of major Farmingdale area developer, crossed into Saunders' lane while adjusting surfboard.

Police on Friday confirmed that Gregg Saunders, the , died in a on Thursday.

The multi-car crash also involved a member of the Rechler family, who developed many of the high-powered office buildings that line the Farmingdale and Melville hub along Route 110. 

Saunders, a part-time Sagaponack resident, was 55 years old.

said the Benjamin Rechler, 19, of Brookville, was reaching into the back seat to adjust a surfboard that had become loose inside his Audi station wagon when he crossed into the oncoming eastbound lane, striking Saunders' Prius.

Rechler has been charged with crossing the pavement markings and failure to keep right, Chief Jerry Larsen said on Friday. "There was no drugs, no texting," he said, adding that no further charges are expected.

Rechler is the son of Mitchell Rechler, a managing partner of Rechler Equity Partners, one of Long Island's top development firms, a spokesman confirmed on Friday.

Mitchell Rechler, along with his cousin Gregg Rechler, are well-known on the East End for high profile projects such as the restoration of and a business and technology park . The Rechlers also are responsible for building the Hauppauge Industrial Park and the numerous office buildings along the Route 110 corridor from Melville to Farmingdale.

"Our family is heartbroken by this horrific tragedy.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Saunders family," Mitchell Rechler said in a statement released on Friday.

Rechler was treated and released from on Thursday. A 17-year-old passenger from Brookville was also treated and released.

Saunders was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital, where the Amagansett Fire Department ambulance had transported him.

A third vehicle driven by Robert Pyrt, 46, of Seaford was traveling west and stopped suddenly to avoid the collision, and a fourth vehicle, driven by Lindsay Murphy, 19, of Montauk, struck it from behind, police said. Neither of those drivers, as well as a passenger in the fourth vehicle, were injured.

A funeral service for Saunders will be held on Friday at the Star of David Memorial Chapel in Babylon at 2 p.m. Burial will follow at Mt. Ararat Cemetery, Route 109 & Wellwood Avenue, in Farmingdale.

In lieu of flowers, his family has requested donations be made in his memory to the . 

Saunders, a partner in Phillips International, bought the old Plitt Ford property at 338 Montauk Highway in 2010, with the plan of tearing down the old garage and building a 17,000-square-foot retail building. He hoped to attract gourmet food markets like Trader Joes or Whole Foods, as he owns several shopping centers where those types of stores are located elsewhere in New York.

Tim McGuinness August 12, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Gary, should the driver by incarcerated in the state penitentiary?
Stacie Skelley August 13, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Yes he should do 365 days in jail. And his community service should be talks to high school and college students for 4 years about the bad choice/decision he made not to pull over to fix the board. This was not an accident (act of god) but a deliberate choice that a reasonable person could expect to cause a crash.
Mike August 16, 2012 at 12:39 PM
It's absolutely gross negligence. There's a level of responsibility required on operating an automobile, and the kid failed. He decided to adjust a surfboard while in motion. How is that so far removed from deciding to drink alcohol before getting behind the wheel. Both are negligent decisions which impair abilities, and can lead to an accident. I'm not saying its exactly the same but he should at least get a few months jail time.
Martha Nassauer August 19, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I agree with you, Mike. If the young man in the jet ski accident last week is in jail with $100,000 bail in Hawaii, then why isn't Mr. Rechler? I realize his father is the real estate tycoon who owns several industrial parks and properties, but I would hate to think that money has anything to do with why his son is not being held accountable for his negligence. This does not seem fair in any way. Dagley and Rechler are being considered negligent, yet one faces criminal charges with possible jail time, and the other does not. This makes zero sense to me. Keeping crime rates down is also important for real estate value, but showing leniency here is completely inappropriate. Rechler needs to be held accountable for his actions, or no precedent is set for other drivers to drive responsibly. What is going on with the local police here regarding this gross disregard for criminal charges?
Martha Nassauer August 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Gross negligence would be operating a motor vehicle, taking your eyes off the road to fix items in/on your vehicle. He should have pulled over to the side of the road to adjust his surfboard. How you see this as "no gross negligence" is beyond comprehension. Outright malice? No. Disregard for other drivers? Yes, most definitely. As stated by other posters here, it is NOT an accident when you deliberately take your eyes off the road, period.


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