By Danny Schrafel
An East Northport man was critically injured Nov. 20 after his daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner when he was hit by a car while crossing the street in Babylon, Suffolk County police said.
Cliff Hammond, 47, a past president of the Huntington Rotary club, suffered extensive injuries and multiple fractures in the crash. Police said a 73-year-old man driving a 1999 Kia traveling westbound hit him while he was crossing Main Street at North Carll Avenue in Babylon at 10 p.m.
Friends said Hammond was leaving a rehearsal dinner for his daughter’s wedding at the Post Office Café in Babylon. The man behind the wheel of the Kia was not injured. No charges have been filed, police said.
Hammond was rushed by Babylon Rescue Squad to Southside Hospital in “catastrophic” condition, Huntington Rotary President Greg Fitzgerald said.
“They did not think he was going to make it through the night. He has surprised everybody,” Fitzgerald said. However, he stressed, “He’s very critical. He’s not out of the woods by any means.”
As of Monday, friends said Hammond had undergone the first of numerous anticipated operations to treat a multitude of injuries. When not in a medically-induced coma, he has been responsive to visitors and his surroundings, friends said.
Northport Rotary President James LaMantia said Monday Hammond’s love for the Rotary permeates his life.
“If we’re having a cocktail, decompressing after work, he’s turning to a person next to us, telling somebody next to us at a bar about Rotary,” he said.
The two met about nine years ago when LaMantia became involved in the Rotary’s Gift of Life program, which raises funds to provide life-saving heart surgery for children around the world in need.
Funny, quick-witted, irreverent and loquacious, Hammond’s intensity for life is well known – over the summer, to raise money for the Gift of Life program, he jumped out of an airplane.
“Whatever he gets into, from conversation to raising money for a charity, it’s all done with a Cliff Hammond intensity,” LaMantia said.
Huntington’s Rotary Club is laying the foundation for efforts to rally financial and professional support for Hammond during his recovery, Fitzgerald said.
Knowing Hammond, LaMantia is betting he’ll get through the ordeal “as strong as an ox.”
“He’ll be drinking his Bombay Martinis and sharing his Rotary stories soon enough,” he said.
Anyone with information on the crash can contact First Squad detectives at 631-854-8152.