LI Woman Struck By 'Out Of Control' Vehicle At Earth Day Celebration

HAMPTON BAYS, NY — An out-of-control vehicle at a bucolic Earth Day celebration in Hampton Bays Saturday left some shaken.

Tela Troge, attorney for the Shinnecock Nation, said she was among those attending the Slow Food East End Earth Day Celebration 2023 at St. Joseph Villa.

“A car went out of control at the Earth Day event,” she said. “I was standing in front of the childhood garden display talking to Maria Plitt about gardening. Then I heard someone yell, ‘Run!’ and I saw a car going out of control through the event toward me.”

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Troge said she had only moments to react, so she ran as fast as she could.

“I tripped pretty shortly after, and cut up my leg,” she said. “I have a nasty bruise. I thought when I fell that that was it for me — but I looked up and saw the car hit a woman.”

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The car struck Heidi Rain Oleszczuk, she said. Oleszczuk sustained bruised ribs and injuries on her elbows but survived.

“The table I was standing at got destroyed, lampposts got destroyed and Heidi got hit by the car,” Troge said.

According to Todd Spencer, public information officer for Southampton Town Police, the incident occurred at about 3:18 p.m. A 76-year-old woman was backing out of a parking spot and accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake, he said. No charges were filed, he said.

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After the incident, Oleszczuk thanked the “very dear friends who surrounded me with such love and prayerful energy after the accident. I felt totally cared for and very blessed.”

Oleszczuk said her husband and she were walking to the parking lot when he saw the car backing up and ran.

“I’m not a fast runner on a good day — and I wasn’t able to get away,” Oleszczuk said. “The car hit me.”

She fell over a table, injuring her ribs, she said. “Someone came and held my head,” worried about neck injuries, she said.

But while she was waiting for the ambulance, Oleszczuk said she was surrounded by many members of the Shinnecock Nation. “I could feel their energy coming toward me; it was so incredible,” she said. “I felt so loved.”

After Troge posted about the incident, Oleszczuk said the outpouring of concern has been amazing. “It’s a real blessing,” she said.

After X rays and an EKG, she was sent home to rest and take ibuprofen, she said.

The experience could have ended far differently. “I feel like a miracle,” she said.

And most of all, she was left forever moved by the love and energy by those who rushed to help her, she said. “It was so wonderful.”

Troge was left unsettled by what transpired. “It was terrible.”

But she is forever grateful that her young son Ben wasn’t with her. “I’m not sure I could have gotten both of us out of the way in time,” she said. “His nap went overtime, and I left him at home so I could speak at the event. He was supposed to come and even had a special outfit that said ‘Earth Day is Every Day.'”

Troge was able to salvage pollinator plants from the wheels of the SUV.

“They are for my son’s garden,” she said;

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