Woman Chases iPhone Under Driver’s Seat, Chaos Ensues

Main Street, Sag Harbor
Main Street, Sag Harbor

Sag Harbor Village suffered through an hour of traffic gridlock beginning at 11 a.m. on the Friday of the Fourth of July weekend. The cause? A woman in the driver’s seat of a brand new 2021 BMW X5 M50i. According to The Sag Harbor Express, her hand had become stuck under the front seat of the SUV while she was driving northbound on Main Street.

Thus imprisoned and now unable to drive, she did, with some other parts of her body, get the vehicle into park so that it wouldn’t continue to move, then as her problem persisted, called to pedestrians there on the sidewalk in front of Grindstone Coffee & Donuts about her problem, who in turn called the Sag Harbor Police, who called vehicles from the Sag Harbor Fire Department Heavy Rescue and the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance.

The car, now blocking the lane, had caused the early stages of gridlock before the emergency vehicles from these two services arrived to join the police in officially shutting down traffic. Now it would get worse.

The problem was that though the woman was not injured, she was in fear of becoming injured if anybody pressed any wrong button controlling the seat’s movements of up, down, seat back or forward, rise up, or heat. People on the scene took photographs of this predicament and in one of them, taken from the front of the car by a reporter from the Sag Harbor Express, she can be seen — an attractive, dark-haired woman — leaning forward with her chin almost on the dashboard but apparently okay otherwise.

Sag Harbor traffic officers set up a detour for traffic on Main Street, sending cars down Carruthers Alley and off to Division Street, so named because the dividing line between East and Southampton Town goes down the white line on that street. There, traffic also began to back up in the northbound lane of that street heading toward Main. It was now also stalled over the Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge and on Bay Street and in the other direction up and beyond Madison Street and off toward Sagaponack and Bridgehampton. Meanwhile, the rescue effort went on for 15 minutes and then 20. Apparently, the authorities didn’t want to damage the car if they didn’t have to.

On the nearby sidewalk, the crowd was speculating that the woman must have gotten her hand stuck while scrounging around under the seat for a dropped cell phone that must have slithered down the space between the driver’s seat and the center console.

“I have an iPhone,” one woman said. “Learned my lesson. Now, always, the first thing I do when I get into my car is plug the iPhone into the car charger wire. Even before I put on my seat belt or start the car. It can’t get lost under the seat then, because even if it slides down anyway, you can always pull on the wire to fish it back up, if you do it carefully.”

“She shouldn’t be on the phone while driving anyway.”

“Who says she was on the phone? Maybe it just slipped off her lap.”

A few people remarked on the complexity of this particular car, which was top of the line.

“That could confuse anybody,” someone said.

“How to get your hand out is on page 1,432 of the manual,” someone else said.

“Well, you can’t go anywhere without your cellphone. It’s like a third arm.”

“Yes, yes.”

At the half hour mark, a cheer went up. The woman’s hand was free. And she was eager to go, but when the ambulance people said she’d been stuck for a half hour and should be checked out, she consented to it. So the traffic tie-up continued. She was offered crutches to put under her arms as she got out of the car. Then it was onto the gurney and into the ambulance and away.

“I hope there was nothing perishable in the back seat,” someone said.

Because of what was now happening in Sag Harbor, traffic elsewhere in the Hamptons was on everyone’s mind, but it was not clear if the authorities, anticipating a continuing gridlock spread, had set up contingency plans to activate emergency measures in the neighboring communities of North Haven, Noyac, Sagaponack, East Hampton or Bridgehampton.

Anyway, all was well that ends well, and so, after the ambulance came and the wrecker came, the traffic gridlock slowly untangled itself and things soon returned to normal, such as it is.

Later, when Police Chief Austin J. McGuire was asked by a reporter if this hand stuck under the seat thing was a common occurrence in Sag Harbor, he said that they’d had a similar situation a week earlier, on Sunday, June 27.

“It was at 1 in the morning,” he said. “Jermain Avenue.”

And yes, the driver was after his cell phone.


These other news items, if considered together with what’s above, will confirm that the Hamptons is now fully a world-class resort, like Palm Beach or the Riviera. These are not middle-class situations in these news items. We’re way up there.

Early on June 30 at 5 a.m., officials from the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton received word that horses were at that hour grazing on one of the fairways. Some of the employees were summoned and as dawn rose, they were out there in golf carts rounding up the horses and leading them to the pasture on the particular horse farm where somebody had failed to fully shut a gate for the night. It’s not known if that was at Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue, at Madonna’s horse farm or at one of the other horse farms nearby.

In another development, it was reported on July 2, the same day as the gridlock report in downtown Sag Harbor, that Jamie Hook, who in January was hired to be the new executive director of the Sag Harbor Theatre, was resigning.

“I’m back to New York City,” he told the Sag Harbor Express. “I can’t afford to live on the East End.”

He said he was at this time living in a shack with no running water. All he could afford. And he said that this was the main reason for his decision.

Hook was highly praised when he agreed to take on this job seven months ago. He is a filmmaker (The Naked Proof and Vacationland), a producer and the founding director of the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle.

He will be missed, but he will shortly be replaced, probably by someone local who lives in a home purchased before real estate went nuts.

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