Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn mourns death of Drs. Peter Smith, Patricia O’Neill

Long-time residents of Brooklyn Heights

February 22, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Two respected and beloved medical practitioners — one in pulmonology, the other in emergency medicine — died in a horrific head-on collision over the weekend in Suffolk County. Dr. Peter Smith had been head of pulmonary medicine at Long Island College Hospital for many years; his wife, Dr. Patricia O’Neill, was a specialist in emergency medicine and a highly respected surgeon. They lived together in Brooklyn Heights for at least four decades.

Southold police Saturday afternoon released their names as being among four people killed in a fiery head-on collision Friday night in East Marion. Police said Saturday morning in a news release that the cars collided just west of Truman’s Beach, and both cars caught fire, killing the passengers in both cars.

A release Saturday afternoon identified the deceased as: Heath Miller, 47, of Greenport; William Price, 55, of Wilton, Conn.; Peter Smith, 80, of Brooklyn; and Patricia O’Neill, 66, of Brooklyn.

The updated release said Mr. Miller and Mr. Price were traveling westbound on Route 25 in a 2023 Tesla; Mr. Smith and Ms. O’Neill were traveling eastbound in a 2020 Ford Explorer when the cars collided head-on. In an interview Saturday afternoon, Chief Martin Flatley said the Tesla caught fire in the collision and burned for two hours.

In an email to The Suffolk Times, Greenport resident Diane Ravitch said, “I was heartbroken to learn that two of the victims in the head-on collision in East Marion were Dr. Peter R. Smith and Dr. Patricia O’Neill. They were friends, in addition to the fact that Dr. Smith treated me when I had a life-threatening pulmonary embolism in 1998. Dr. O’Neill was a greatly respected surgeon. Their deaths are a grievous loss for the many people whose lives they saved over many years.”

The accident occurred at 11:30 p.m. Friday. The release said, “The crash is currently being investigated by the Southold Town Police Department and the New York State Police accident reconstructive team. Suffolk County Police Emergency Services Unit as well as East Marion, Orient and Southold Fire Departments responded.”

The family of Dr. Peter Smith and Dr. Patricia O’Neill of Brooklyn and Orient will receive visitors Thursday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 4 and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck.

Funeral Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, at Our Lady of Good Counsel R.C. Church in Mattituck. Interment will follow at Orient Central Cemetery.

Memorial donations may be made in their names to Oysterponds Historical Society.

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