Southampton Town Police have identified the man who died when his truck caught fire on a Hampton Bays beach on April 12, though they have not yet determined the cause of the deadly blaze.
The body of Charles Bowens, 73, of Tuckahoe was in the driver’s seat of the blue Chevrolet pickup truck that was found engulfed in flames at around noon that Saturday on a beach overlooking Peconic Bay, Town Police Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa said Monday afternoon.
Police do not know what caused the truck to catch fire, but the investigation is being treated as non-criminal, according to Det. Sgt. Costa. She added that it appears that the fire started accidentally, though detectives are still investigating the incident.
Despite contacting Mr. Bowens’s family last week, Town Police did not release his name at that time because they were waiting on official confirmation of his identity from the Suffolk County medical examiner’s office.
Born on Yonges Island, South Carolina, on May 5, 1940, Mr. Bowens moved to Bridgehampton at a young age, and then later to Southampton. He worked as a groundskeeper at the Meadow Club in Southampton Village for 30 years, retiring about seven years ago, his wife, Rose Ann Bowens, said on Wednesday morning.
“He was a very lovable person and he was a very respectable man,” Ms. Bowens said. “Ain’t nobody in Southampton got anything bad to say about Charles.”
Ms. Bowens said she did not know what her husband was doing on the beach that morning, but noted that he was an avid fisherman and crabber, and enjoyed being near the ocean. She added that he loved spending time with his six young grandchildren, Andrew, Sareye, Niyah, Jamirah and Jubilee Brown, and Kayla Bowens, all ranging between 5 months and 7 years of age.
“Charles was beautiful and a loving person,” she said. “My husband would give you his heart.”
In addition to his wife and grandchildren, Mr. Bowens is also survived by a son, Charlie Bowens Jr. of Southampton, a stepson, James Brown and his wife, Cordasia, of Patchogue, as well as a sister, Elizabeth Rice of the Bronx.
A wake was held for Mr. Bowens on Saturday, April 19, at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton, followed by a funeral service conducted by the Reverend Henry Faison Jr. of the Southampton First Baptist Church. Mr. Bowens was buried at Southampton Cemetery later that day.