Police Seek Information on Booby Trap That Injured ATV Rider

One of the cords tied to a tree in an attempt to deter dirt bikers and ATV riders. Photo Courtesy Suffolk Crimes Stoppers

Police are offering a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest of the person or persons who created a dangerous condition on a Sag Harbor area nature trail where a teenager on an all-terrain vehicle was seriously injured earlier this month.

“An unknown person or people are tying hunter green parachute cords across the trails in an attempt to deter dirt bikes and ATV riders,” according to an alert released Wednesday morning by Suffolk County Crime Stoppers on behalf of the Southampton Town police. The cords are difficult to see, police said, “and may cause serious physical injury or death.”

One of the cords maimed a 17-year-old boy who was riding his ATV on a trail in the woods near Hickory Hills Lane on the evening of August 7, Southampton Town Police Lieutenant Sue Ralph said last week.

A camouflaged parachute cord “caught him by his neck and threw him from the ATV,” according to the alert.

The teenage victim was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital, a level-one trauma center, and he was released three days later.

A photograph of the injury sustained by a 17-year-old dirt biker on a trail when a parachute cord caught him by his neck, Southampton Town police said. Photo Courtesy Suffolk Crime Stoppers

Lieutenant Ralph said police located additional cords in the woods.

Southampton police detectives are actively investigating the case. The person or people responsible for the “hazardous condition” are facing a charge of reckless endangerment in the second degree, the lieutenant said.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest. Anyone with information about the incidents can contact Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS, utilizing a mobile app which can be downloaded through the App Store or Google Play by searching P3 Tips, or online at P3Tips.com. All calls, text messages and emails will be kept confidential.

People who have lived near or managed Southampton Town nature trails have long complained about these motorized bikes, which are illegal on public land. They say the noise is disruptive not only to residents, but to wildlife, and that speeding riders pose a danger to those walking on the trails, and that they cause damage to the trails themselves.

For decades, dirt bikers, ATV riders and their supporters have called for public land on the South Fork where they can ride freely. The town has seen an increase in complaints about motorized bikes, attributed, in part, to the coronavirus pandemic with so many people home.

Similar booby traps designed to throw riders have been reported elsewhere in the country. The U.S. Forest Service has investigated cases where a wire or cable was found strung between trees on federal land in Denver, Colorado last year. Booby-trapped trails were also discovered by cyclists along a trail on Lake Hodges in Escondido, California.

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