A beloved 75-year-old husband and father died in a multi-vehicle wreck involving a stolen Range Rover on the Southern State Parkway earlier this week, New York State Police and the man's family confirmed Tuesday.
Richard Riggs, of Holbrook, died of his injuries at the scene of Monday's crash on the parkway east of exit 38, State Police said.
According to the preliminary investigation, a white Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Range Rover — which was later determined to have been stolen in early July from East Garden City —were headed east on the parkway, driving erratically, shortly after 3:15 p.m. in the town of Babylon.
The two vehicles tried to pass in between two others -- a Toyota Prius and a Mitsubishi Outlander, which caused a collision, officials said.
The collision sent the stolen Range Rover off the road onto the right shoulder and into the tree line, while the Outlander hit a tree and flipped over, coming to rest on the right shoulder. The Prius hit a cement jersey barrier coming to rest in the left lane, east of the scene, according to State Police.
Riggs had been in the Outlander. He appears to have been the lone occupant. Boxes from his job as a car parts salesman were left strewn across the parkway.
His wife, Carol, told News 4 she and her daughter had been driving on the same parkway Monday afternoon to pick up her grandkids from camp when the daughter saw the overturned Outlander and gasped because it looked like her father's car.
The two women didn't know at first it was Riggs' vehicle for sure, though they did recognize the license plate.
"She said 'Oh my God, there's a car upside down,' and she says it's a silver car. She said, 'I think it's dad,'" Carol Riggs told NBC New York. "She starts calling out the license plate number, and it was him."
Police were directing traffic off the exit and they had to pick the kids up from camp, Riggs' wife said.
She called her son-in-law to get more information and learned it was indeed her husband of nearly 52 years. And he was dead in the vehicle at the time they passed.
Carol Riggs says she now can't get the image of that ruined vehicle out of her head. She is pleading with the public to come forward with any information that would lead to arrests in the case.
"It's a scene I will never forget. It will be in my mind forever," said Carol Riggs.
The two occupants in the Range Rover were witnessed being picked up by the people in the white Jeep and fled the scene. No information was available on any potential suspects as of Tuesday afternoon, and state police are searching for the two other drivers who caused the crash.
Carol Riggs is hoping someone witnessed the crash and can help police find those responsible, calling them "a bunch of cowards."
"He loved his family and we lost him, I don't even know if there's picking up pieces. How can you carryon after this?" Riggs asked. "They destroyed lives here. Three daughters who don't have their father, and four grandchildren."
Grand larceny auto theft has surged across the state and in New York City over the last year, according to a new warning from the DMV Tuesday.
Anyone with information on Monday's crash is asked to call the State Police at 631-756-3300.