A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation died on Saturday after suffering traumatic injuries during an all-terrain vehicle accident, New York State Police said on Sunday.
Brian N. Bess Jr., 20, had been riding an ATV on the Reservation off Little Beach Road in Southampton when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a parked vehicle, then into a telephone pole, police said. Responders arrived on the scene at 4:21 p.m., and Mr. Bess was still conscious.
Mr. Bess, who was not wearing a helmet while riding, suffered multiple traumas, internal bleeding, and a leg injury. He was initially taken to Southampton Hospital and was supposed to be dispatched to Stony Brook University Hospital, but then was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center when his condition worsened.
Mr. Bess was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, police said.
Family members described Mr. Bess as “a care-free spirit” who was known for his smile and loved being outside. He attended Southampton High School and played offensive and defensive tackle on the varsity football team before graduating in 2011.
He went on to study at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and worked for his father, Brian N. Bess Sr., at BNB Tobacco on Montauk Highway in Southampton.
“He was a beautiful Shinnecock man,” said Mr. Bess’s aunt and godmother, Tonya Bess-Hodges. “He loved his people.”
Nicholl Banks, a Shinnecock Nation Tribal Trustee and also an aunt of Mr. Bess, said her nephew will be “tremendously missed” by the community.
“It’s a great loss to our nation,” she said. “The Shinnecock Nation has always been a resilient people. We’re grounded by our faith and will get through this tragedy.”
In 2012, Mr. Bess was one of two survivors in a car crash that killed two others just off East Gate Road in Southampton.
Mr. Bess is predeceased by his mother, Josette Johnson Bess, and grandfather, Peter Smith. He is survived by his father; step-mother Maya Jones; siblings Brandon, Bryce and London Bess, Danecia Johnson and Sahar Gray; grandparents Frederick Bess, Diane Smith, Larry Johnson and Linda Hopson; and aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visiting hours for Mr. Bess will be held at Brockett’s Funeral Home on Hampton Road in Southampton on Wednesday, June 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. A viewing will continue at the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton at noon on Thursday, June 19, with the funeral service, officiated by the Rev. Mike Smith, beginning at the church at 1 p.m. Following the funeral on Thursday will be the burial at Shinnecock Indian Cemetery.