Hamptons Police Blotter: Man Lost in Privet Hedge

A Southampton man vanished into his privet hedge this week
A Southampton man vanished into his privet hedge this week, Photo: NathanBc, 4774344sean/iStock/Thinkstock

Police are continuing to search for a Southampton man who fell into his privet hedge last Wednesday and who hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Mason Fletchler III, the owner of Just Desserts on Captain’s Neck in Southampton’s exclusive estate section, was operating a gas-powered trimmer while dangerously perched on the top of a tall stepladder when he apparently lost his balance and fell into the thick bushes. No one witnessed the fall.

“He dropped his trimmer when he tumbled in,” police spokesman Larry Hirsch says, noting that the tool was found, still running, on the ground under the area where Fletchler was working. “It’s too bad he didn’t hang onto it, because then he might have been able to cut his way out.”

Even considering the impenetrability of the average hedge in Southampton’s privacy-obsessed estate enclave, the privet at Just Desserts is uncommonly tall, wide and dense. According to neighbors, Fletchler takes great pride in the health and vigor of his hedges and insists on tending them himself.

“I don’t know what he fertilizes with, but this is the Berlin Wall of privet,” Hirsch says, noting the lush growth has stymied police in their efforts to locate Fletchler. “You can’t see more than two inches into those bushes, even with infra-red!”

The dense foliage also dampens sound, so it’s impossible for Fletchler to make himself heard from within the bushes or for police to communicate with Fletchler. “I honestly don’t know, under the circumstances, how he managed to squeeze into this stuff,” Hirsch says. But all evidence points to the fact that Fletchler is in fact trapped in the privet and, Hirsch adds, police will continue searching the bushes “indefinitely.”

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