Suffolk County police say 60-year-old David Dorazio, of Lindenhurst, died instantly when his car was struck in the westbound lanes of Sunrise Highway in North Babylon around 2:15 p.m.
The Department of Transportation says a tractor trailer was traveling on NY 231, which crosses over Sunrise Highway, when it lost one or possibly two tires.
One tire then dropped onto the highway and struck the 1998 Saturn, killing Dorazio and leaving the vehicle's roof and hood crushed.
WATCH video from Newscopter 7 over the scene
A Chevy SUV with two women inside was also hit by a tire. That vehicle was driven by 61-year-old Mary Garone, of Lindenhurst. Her passenger described the terrifying experience.
"I thought we were going to die," she said. "We were really scared. Very scary...We must have hit debris and the tire, all of the sudden, our car, boom. I saw debris flying, and I saw the tire fly over on the car. And it was like, I thought the tire was going to hit us. I said, 'Mary, pull over' and then our car started smoking and I was scared it was going to blow up."
Eyewitness News spoke with Mary Garone's husband Rich Garone. He said his wife was in the car with her friend Irene Sciane. They were both returning from helping out another friend in Manorville.
He said his wife said the tire hit Dorazio's car and then his car swerved into the median. The tire then hit the front bumper of her car but thankfully didn't fly up through her front windshield.
Fortunately, neither woman was hurt.
Authorities are now looking for help from the public in finding the truck that lost the tire or tires. It is unclear whether the driver knew what had happened.
"The First Squad is looking for help from the public on the origin of these tires," Detective Sergeant James Cullen said. "If anyone can help us, what vehicle they came off or where they came from."
All lanes of westbound Sunrise Highway and the service road were closed at Robert Moses Causeway.
The vehicles were impounded for a safety check.
Detectives are asking anyone with information on the crash to call the First Squad at 631-854-8152.
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