Long Beach police are investigating an incident that occurred on West Beech Street Friday morning in which a man was severely injured in a possible chemical mishap.
Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said that police and firefighters responded to a call on the 300 block of West Beech Street at 8 a.m.
“When officers arrived they found the aided in severe condition,” Tangney said. “We believe there was [hazardous] activity in the garage.”
Tangney said that officers responded and found a man passed out in the yard. The man was transported to South Nassau Communities Hospital in serious condition. His injuries were not immediately known. Police also found a chemical lab in the garage.
Police evacuated nearby homes on West Beech and Penn Street as the Long Beach Fire Department, a Nassau County Police Department hazardous material crew and other emergency departments responded to the scene.
“It appears to be some kind of [Hazmat] incident and it’s a hazardous condition,” Tangney said. “We evacuated all the surrounding houses on West Beech Street and Penn.”
"The Long Beach Fire Department provided medical assistance to the aided male at the scene," LBPD Sgt. Brett Curtis said in a news release. "The aided male was transported to an area hospital for treatment. While at the scene, in a detached garage, materials were discovered that triggered a Hazmat response. Rescue units did back away from the area, which is consistent with their training. The Long Beach Fire Department, the Nassau County Police Department Emergency Service Unit and the Nassau County Fire Marshal's did a full assessment to determine how the aided became injured. Hazardous material decontamination is currently underway."
Curtis told Newsday that officers observed a beaker containing liquids which appeared to be bubbling and a working heat source.
Tangney had initially told the Herald that the garage may have been used for possible drug activity, but he and other police officials later revised those statements on Friday afternoon, saying that the investigation was ongoing. A Herald reporter observed agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration on the scene. Curtis said that more details would be provided as additional information became available.
"This still remains an active Police Investigation, being investigated by the Long Beach Police Detective Division," he said in a statement. "Once hazardous material decontamination is concluded, the Long Beach Police Detective Division will commence a full police investigation and the circumstances surrounding it. Presently, the Long Beach Police Department, the Long Beach Fire Department, the Nassau County Police Department Emergency Service Unit and the Nassau County Fire Marshal's Hazardous Materials Unit are still on scene. Vehicular and pedestrian traffic is currently closed in both directions on West Beech Street, between Laurelton and Lafayette boulevards."
The Long Beach Fire Department advised people to avoid the area due to the ongoing investigation.
The incident came as a shock to residents in what they described as a quiet neighborhood that includes a number of historic homes and well-manicured lawns. One woman on West Beech Street, who declined to give her name, said she was taking care of her mother who lives nearby when she saw all the emergency vehicles.
"I grew up here and wouldn't expect this to be happening in Long Beach," said said.
"I thought maybe someone was hit by a car or something because usually stuff like that doesn't happen around here — there's never really any crimes or anything like that," said Natalie Samoroukova, 20. "This is very shocking because this neighborhood is very safe. I grew up here. The neighborhood is usually quiet, lots of kids running around, very safe. I'm very surprised."