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Jun 16, 2010 11:43 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Officer pulls autistic child from Northampton lake

Jun 16, 2010 11:43 AM

A Southampton Town Police officer pulled an autistic 5-year-old boy out of Wildwood Lake in Northampton after he went missing Sunday morning, police said. The boy was not harmed, authorities said.

Police said they received a call of an autistic child missing from a Birch Court residence at 10:23 a.m. that morning. Officer Kevin Gwinn, a longtime member of the force who regularly covers Flanders and Northampton, responded and saw signs that the child might have hopped a fence and entered the woods behind his house, according to Town Police Captain Anthony Tenaglia.

Behind the house, Officer Gwinn found three trails through the woods, and followed the one that leads to nearby Wildwood Lake, Capt. Tenaglia said. At the edge of the lake, he found the child’s shoes at the top of a high embankment, and caught a glimpse of the boy’s bright-colored T-shirt in the water, Capt. Tenaglia said.

Officer Gwinn jumped into the lake and waded out to the boy, who was almost completely submerged, but not in distress, according to Town Police Sergeant Herbert Johnson. Officer Gwinn was in up to his waist when he reached the boy, and calmed him down before securing him and pulling him out of the lake, Sgt. Johnson said.

The boy, who was not identified, was returned to his family unharmed a short time later, police said.

Driver Charged With DWI

A Babylon woman was charged with felony DWI last week after she was pulled over in Riverside with an infant in her car, according to New York State Police.

Police said State Trooper Dan Ahlgrim was patrolling Riverhead-Moriches Road at 8:55 p.m. on June 8 when he stopped Sara Cunningham, 23, for speeding, driving on the shoulder and talking on a cell phone without using a hands-free device. She had a 1-year-old boy, who was not her son, in the backseat at the time, police said. Authorities said they do not know if she is related to the boy.

Ms. Cunningham was charged with DWI, which was elevated to a felony because she had a child in her car, and endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree criminal impersonation, both misdemeanors. She was also charged with several traffic violations.

After she was pulled over, police said Ms. Cunningham told Trooper Ahlgrim that she did not have her driver’s license on her, and then proceeded to give him a false name. Her blood-alcohol content was .10, which was over the legal limit of .08, police said. After arresting her for DWI, Trooper Ahlgrim found Ms. Cunningham’s driver’s license inside her black Nissan, according to police.

Ms. Cunningham was arraigned on June 9 in Southampton Town Justice Court and remanded to Suffolk County Jail in Riverside in lieu of $2,500 bail.

Cops: Sex Offender 
Failed To Register

A convicted sex offender was arrested in Riverhead last week and charged with failing to register with police after moving into a home in Flanders, Southampton Town Police said.

Police said that Benjamin Stanley Griffin, 54, a convicted rapist who is originally from Mastic, was picked up by Riverhead Town Police on an outstanding warrant and turned over to Southampton Town Police at 9:41 a.m. on June 8.

Police said Mr. Griffin was released from Suffolk County Jail in Riverside recently and moved in with a relative at a Cypress Avenue in Flanders, but failed to notify authorities. Mr. Griffin was released on May 4, according to Suffolk County Jail records.

Mr. Griffin was convicted in 1983 of two counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree sexual abuse, all felonies, according to New York State’s public registry of sex offenders. The victim was a female, although further details were not listed.

Records show that Mr. Griffin was originally arrested for that crime by Southampton Town Police, although the exact location was not listed.

Riverhead Town Police could not say exactly where or when Mr. Griffin was arrested on June 8. Southampton Town Police said they issued the warrant after checking up on Mr. Griffin after he was released from jail, and found that he didn’t register at the Flanders residence.

Mr. Griffin was charged with failing to register as a sex offender, a felony, and is currently being held in Suffolk County Jail in Riverside without bail. He is scheduled to return to court on July 14, according to authorities.

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Great work, SHT PD!

Practically in my own backyard -- sorry I missed this before!
By Frank Wheeler (1823), Northampton on Jun 20, 10 6:14 PM
Kudos to Officer Gwinn for finding and saving the little boys life!
By WM11976 (12), Water Mill on Jun 21, 10 2:49 PM
What a real Hero!! Everyone should be so proactive. Kudos to a job.... well done!!
By et6678 (12), southampton on Jun 22, 10 9:03 AM
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