A member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation died on Saturday after suffering traumatic injuries in an all-terrain-vehicle accident on the reservation, New York State Police said on Sunday.
Brian N. Bess Jr., 20, had been riding an ATV off Little Beach Road when he lost control and the ATV crashed into a parked vehicle, then into a telephone pole, police said. Mr. Bess, who was not wearing a helmet while riding, was still conscious when responders arrived on the scene at 4:21 p.m.
Mr. Bess suffered multiple traumas, internal bleeding and a leg injury. He was initially taken to Southampton Hospital and was being flown by Medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, but instead the helicopter was diverted to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center when his condition worsened. He was pronounced dead at Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, police said.
Family members described Mr. Bess as “a carefree 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 May 2012, Mr. Bess was one of two survivors in a car crash that killed two other tribe members 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, Brian N. Bess Sr., and stepmother, Maya Jones; siblings Brandon, Bryce and London Bess, Danecia Johnson, and Sahar Gray; grandparents Frederick Bess, Diane Smith, Larry Johnson and Linda Hopson; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
Viewing will be at the First Presbyterian Church of Southampton on South Main Street at noon on Thursday, June 19. The funeral service, officiated by the Reverend Mike Smith, begins at the church at 1 p.m., and burial at the Shinnecock Indian Cemetery will follow.