By A. Dollinger & D. Schrafel
Ex-Thatched Cottage owner Ralph Colamussi was hospitalized on Tuesday after an apparent suicide attempt, sources have confirmed – one day before the scheduled bankruptcy auction of his Centerport catering hall.
Suffolk police received a report of gasoline leaking from a vehicle on New York Avenue at 10:30 a.m. Responders found a man unconscious in the back of a white work van, parked in the municipal parking lot next to Thai USA restaurant. He was taken by Huntington Community First Aid Squad ambulance to Huntington Hospital. Julie Robinson-Tingue, director of public affairs at the hospital, confirmed the man was Colamussi.
As of press time on Tuesday, Colamussi was in stable condition and undergoing treatment for a “gasoline injury” at Huntington Hospital, she added.
When the Huntington Fire Department arrived, firemen found gas leaking out of the van and a man unconscious in the back, Chief Robert Berry said.
“There was a bunch of debris in the back of the van and the whole back of the van was doused with gasoline,” Berry said. “There was gasoline throughout the back of the van, on himself, and then there was an additional probably 10, maybe 12 gallons…in containers [in the back of the van.]”
According to Huntington Community First Aid Squad spokeswoman Andrea Golinsky, the patient was in critical condition when the first aid squad brought him to the hospital. The Islip Town Hazmat Team cleared the area of fumes, she said.
In an interview last month, Colamussi told Long Islander News that the catering hall was his “home.”
“I have nothing, I lost everything in my life,” he said in August. “There is no next for me.”
On Tuesday, responders found his white van parked feet away from a makeshift memorial marking the spot at which police found the burning body of 21-year-old Huntington resident Michael Rizzi in April, following his apparent suicide.
Berry said that the Sept. 23 incident “could’ve had a much different outcome.”
Had there been any fire involved, he said, “There absolutely would’ve been an explosion… That would’ve been a very large explosion.”
Colamussi had operated the Thatched Cottage on Route 25A for three decades. He filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, citing the cost of damages from Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy as factors. Colamussi tried to save his business by entering a partnership with Gino Scotto, operator of Westbury Manor catering hall. His neighboring Jellyfish restaurant, which is a separate corporate entity, has been closed since March.
A federal bankruptcy court judge in July deemed the venue no longer viable and ordered its assets to be liquidated to meet outstanding debts.
At Wednesday’s auction, held at the Thatched Cottage, the property sold for $4.65 million. Yama Raj, executive director of Bethpage catering hall The Sterling, purchased the property and said that he and his partners plan to open another catering hall as a separate entity.