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May 2, 2012 10:11 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Two From Shinnecock Indian Reservation Killed In Car Crash

May 2, 2012 10:42 AM

A spirit fire, meant to guide the spirits of deceased tribe members to their resting place, has been burning since Saturday, when the Shinnecock Indian Nation awoke to the tragic news that two of its members, Duane “D.L.” White, 22, and Jason “Tek” King, 33, were killed in a car accident early that morning.

At approximately 2:23 a.m., having just made the turn onto the Shinnecock Reservation via East Gate Road from Hill Street, Mr. King lost control of the 2009 Lexus CS 350 he was driving and struck a tree. Mr. White and Mr. King were pronounced dead at the scene, according to Southampton Village Police Detective Sergeant Herman Lamison. A patrolling Village Police officer discovered the crash a short time after it had occurred.

Two other passengers in the car, Awan Gumbs, 31, and Brian N. Bess Jr., 18, were hospitalized following the crash with serious but not life-threatening injuries. They were listed as being in stable condition at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue and Stony Brook University Medical Center, respectively, this week. Mr. Bess was flown to Stony Brook by Medevac helicopter following the crash.

Det. Sgt. Lamison said he believes the car exceeded the 25-mph speed limit heading west on Hill Street, but declined to speculate as to exactly how fast it was going.

Police could not say whether drugs or alcohol was a factor in the crash; however, a police report notes that one officer on the scene said that a “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage was emanating from the vehicle.” Det. Sgt. Lamison said police were waiting for toxicology reports as part of the investigation.

In a police report, Mr. Bess was quoted as saying to police, “We were drinking, we were at a party and I just wanted to leave and go home.”

Details are sketchy about where the men were coming from, but, according to the police report, three people told police that they were with Mr. Bess, Mr. White and Mr. King at a party at Mr. Bess’s home. The report does not mention whether Mr. Gumbs was at the party.

Early Saturday morning, the devastating news of the accident resonated throughout the community and crossed time zones when Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs took a call from fellow Trustee Randy King and tribe member Avery Dennis Jr. Mr. Gumbs, who was in Albuquerque for the Gathering of the Nations Powwow, described the call as the most excruciating moment in his entire life. He was told that two men made it and two men didn’t make it, and that one of his three sons was in the car.

“That’s all I knew for over an hour and a half, sitting in a hotel room in New Mexico,” he said. “I didn’t know which son, and I didn’t know who had crossed over and who was still with us.”

According to Mr. Gumbs, his son Awan escaped the accident with a broken leg, a broken hip, three broken vertebrae disks in his lower back, and multiple broken ribs. He said Mr. Bess suffered similar injuries.

“It was mixed emotions,” Mr. Gumbs said quietly. “You’re relieved in one sense, and you’re crushed in another sense that we lost two very promising young tribal members.”

The accident scene at the “Foot of the Hill,” where the Shinnecock Nation’s border touches Hill Street, has become hallowed ground. Family and friends in mourning have gathered daily to pay their respects to Mr. King and Mr. White, and to keep the spirit fire burning.

“The community is still dealing with the shock of it,” said the Reverend Michael Smith of the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church. “We appreciate prayers and concerns. It gets overwhelming to some folks, especially the families.”

In the hours that followed the removal of the totaled Lexus from the crash site, various members of the media appeared looking for comment, upsetting some mourners. According to Southampton Village Police, while a News 12 camera crew was trying to shoot news footage, a man took their tripod and threw it into the street. Det. Sgt. Lamison said there was also a report of a man firing gunshots into the air.

While it will be a long hard road for the Nation to come to terms with the tragedy, Mr. Gumbs and Rev. Smith both said the community must begin to heal.

“In our community, there is a commitment to remember these individuals for who they were—the smiles, the good times, the fun times,” Mr. Gumbs said. “The ability to remember them in this good light is one of our strengths, and that’s what we will do. We will continue to remember these two young men for who they are, for the potential that they had in our community and warmth that both of these men extended to others in our community.”

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So terribly sorry for your loss. Reminds me of the accident that took the life of a young high school student in North Haven not too long ago. Same situation, hitting a tree. Many people speculated at that time of day, similar to this situation, that she may have been trying to avoid hitting deer as it is a known crossing point.

My heart goes out to all - the victims of the accident, their families and the Shinnecock community.
By Vikki K (487), Southampton on Apr 28, 12 12:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
There are no words. My heart is broken. All that matters is that we are there for each other. Condolences to the families and the community.
By shaeleigh (1), southampton on Apr 28, 12 12:34 PM
What a terrible thing! All of our prayers and condolences go out to the families.
By elliot (241), sag harbor on Apr 28, 12 12:59 PM
2 members liked this comment
Sorry for this great loss,,,,May God Bless you all,both Living and Dead.Your faith will pull you all through,Chief Free Wind.
By Etians rd (463), Southampton on Apr 28, 12 5:06 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By LovinLife (55), East Quogue on Apr 29, 12 11:24 AM
My sincere condolences to the entire reservation and the families of this tragic event loss of the two yound men. My prayers are with Lance and his family and tribal members on the quick recovery of the other two young men. Many prayers and vblessings being sent your way. WHB, NY
By harlee24 (7), southampton on Apr 29, 12 11:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By fish head (9), Southampton on Apr 29, 12 11:56 AM
1 member liked this comment
Very sad. I know Randy King very well and my heart breaks for him.
By dnice (2332), Hampton Bays on Apr 29, 12 12:12 PM
So awful. My condolences to all the familes involved. To lose two young people from such a small, tight knit community must be heart breaking. Thank you to all the gallant folks who responded to what must have been a horrific scene and who must have worked so hard to help the two who were injured. May Mr. Gumbs and Mr. Bess recover quickly.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Apr 29, 12 1:10 PM
I'll miss you Jason, R.I.P.
By AlwaysLocal (292), southampton on Apr 29, 12 1:31 PM
constructive criticism should be banned from this site!!
By springsmom (29), East Hampton on Apr 29, 12 6:24 PM
C.C. should be banned from the planet.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Apr 29, 12 8:16 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'll help build the rocket, to send this nozzle clean past the Van Allen Belt.
By Mr. Z (10097), North Sea on Apr 29, 12 8:53 PM
1 member liked this comment
This board should be strictly to express sympathy and condolences to the families. Anything else is extremely poor taste..and I would think 27east would have the empathy to realize that and remove inappropriate posts. There is a time and a place for "constructive criticism" and this is not it! There are families that are suffering and they should be granted the dignity to do so.
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Apr 29, 12 8:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
Since when do any of you decide what is appropriate for this board postings? As long as the comments are related to the story the postings should be allowed. If you want to post condolences only, they have a place for that. You need to post to funeral home area.
By Walt (269), Southampton on May 4, 12 10:38 AM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By summertime (589), summerfield fl on Apr 29, 12 10:12 PM
CC's comments should be struck and he/she banned.
By Hambone (494), New York on Apr 29, 12 10:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mommy (2), southampton on Apr 29, 12 10:32 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Mommy (2), southampton on Apr 29, 12 10:37 PM
You see what can happen if you neglect to bleach that black mold in the bottom of your slop sinks. It starts posting comments (VIDE constructivecriticism, criticismcritical and wintertime.)
By highhatsize (3529), East Quogue on Apr 29, 12 11:02 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By S'hamptonNative (78), Southampton on Apr 30, 12 6:20 AM
We apologize that some inappropriate comments were left posted overnight. They have since been removed and the users have been banned from future posting.
By Bill Sutton, Managing Editor (108), Westhampton Beach on Apr 30, 12 9:28 AM
This is not a memorial site. what type of censorship does the press practice due to their not agreeing with the poster. While I did not see the offending posts, posts other than sympathies should be allowed as long as they are related to the referneced news story!
By Walt (269), Southampton on May 4, 12 10:40 AM
no they shouldnt and it is because of idiots having the right to say what they want no matter how offensive or insensitive that our country is in the chaos it is today!! It sickens me to think of the hate and poison in this society in 2012!!
By kjackson111 (1), patchogue on May 4, 12 1:28 PM
Since you didnt see the offending posts, perhaps you should refrain from commenting. No its not a memorial site, but relatives and friends of these young men will visit this article, they've lost a loved one, that's painful enough without being subjected to the ignorance and vitoral of the cowards who have nothing better to do than inflict pain on people that they know they will never see face to face and if they did they would not have the guts to speak what they typed.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on May 6, 12 5:19 PM
2 members liked this comment
Thank you for doing that.
By goldenrod (505), southampton on Apr 30, 12 11:25 AM
2 members liked this comment
I know that it sometimes seems that I absolutely must have the last word.

All that I must say this morning, is that life is a pattern, and thou art the weaver...
By Mr. Z (10097), North Sea on May 1, 12 12:53 AM
2 members liked this comment
RIP TEK & DL:(( Get better Awan & Man-Man.....God is a healer!!!!
By concerned hamponite (7), hamptons on May 1, 12 9:50 AM
I've had to brake very suddenly for deer in that area.
By btdt (417), water mill on May 1, 12 3:55 PM
Yes deer do cross at that area,and I have also had to take emergency action to avoid customers leaving the many smoke shops now dotting this area.
By Etians rd (463), Southampton on May 2, 12 9:30 AM
My heart goes out to the families that lost thier loved ones. May they get comfort and hope from God and the friends around them
By YXZ (32), Hampton Bays on May 2, 12 3:12 PM
It was a year ago that two men also died in a burning car crash in Sag Harbor -so many heart broken families and friends, I for one was a friend, my heart goes out to the families of these boys killed recently-it's going to hurt for a long time.
By nurse (53), sag harbor on May 8, 12 7:42 PM
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