A Manhattan developer who crashed his Porsche into a utility pole in the Hamptons early Sunday morning dragged his dying passenger out of the car and left him for dead outside his house, according to a friend of the victim who spoke with police hours after the fatal wreck. The source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, says initial reports that victim Paul Hansen was thrown from the vehicle are not true.
"It's almost physically impossible for [Hansen] to be thrown from the car," Hansen's friend says. "He didn't go through the windshield. He didn't go straight up into the air and land. He was taken from the car. This is something that law enforcement alluded to: Sean Ludwick pulled him out and dumped his body and left him to die. He didn't call 911, he tried to cover up what happened."
The source was with Hansen on the night of his death at the Southampton lounge 230 Down, where Ludwick was also present. Ludwick's son is friends and classmates with one of Hansen's sons, and was spending the night at Hansen's Sag Harbor house where, shortly after 2 a.m., police responding to neighbors' 911 calls found a dying Hansen by the edge of the property.
Ludwick, 42, had crashed his Porsche into a utility pole steps from Hansen's house. He was arrested soon after when police found him with his vehicle some distance down the road. Hansen's friend says that before he fled the scene, Ludwick removed Hansen's wallet and identification and threw it into the woods as he tried to drive away.
"When we arrived at the scene [that morning] we saw the K9 unit searching the area, and asked what they were looking for, and they said Paul's wallet was thrown into the woods," the source tells us. "When officers stumbled upon [Sean], he never mentioned that Paul was there. He didn't say, 'Oh, can you go help my friend.' He didn't mention it at all. It wasn't until the officer saw the car fluid coming down the lane and followed it that he went and found Paul. This guy was going to leave our friend to die."
Initial reports corroborate this chain of events—police say Ludwick drove from the scene on two flat tires, leaving "a trail of debris," and that officers found him standing outside his damaged vehicle. (A source tells the Post that officers "followed the trail of oil leaking out of Ludwick’s car back to the crash scene, where they found Hansen.") Det. Sgt. Lisa Costa told SagHarborOnline that Ludwick “did not cooperate” with police, and according to the criminal complaint he smelled of alcohol, was slurring his speech, and stumbled when he walked.
Hansen's next door neighbor tells ABC 7, "I heard something like a bang. Either like he closed the door to the car or something like that. I figured someone picked someone up or dropped someone off."
Hansen, 53, was declared dead at the scene. Ludwick was arrested, but refused to take a blood test at the scene. He was charged with DWI and “leaving the scene of an incident without reporting that involves death,’’ and held in lieu of $1 million bond.
— East Hampton Star (@EHStar) August 31, 2015
The Suffolk County D.A.'s office did not respond to our requests for comment, but prosecutor Maggie Bopp told the Post that Hansen was "was ejected onto the road, where the defendant left the scene and proceeded to drive away. The defendant attempted to go up the street driving on what was left of his wheels, basically two rims."
Hansen was a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Sag Harbor. He is survived by his wife and two sons, ages 11 and 14. Hansen's friend recalls that he "was the most wonderful man. It was like, how can you be so happy all the time? If you invited him somewhere he was the first person to say yes. And he spent every waking moment that he could with his sons. They were his reason for doing everything. Everything he did was for those boys. It was like he was on a mission to be the best dad ever."
Ludwick owns residences in Bridgehampton and Manhattan, and is the founder of BlackHouse Development, which has built luxury condos and hotels around Manhattan, including the boutique Hotel Americano overlooking the High Line.
Ludwick was arrested last year after he broke into his ex-girlfriend's apartment and drew penises on artwork he had painted himself and given to her as gifts. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in that incident. He also pleaded guilty to charges related to a 2013 assault and battery incident in Martha's Vineyard: "According to a police report filed in court, Mr. Ludwick was staying at an Edgartown inn when he allegedly struck his girlfriend, ripped the phone out of the wall when she tried to call police, and hit her with the phone. Police also said he allegedly broke down the door to the bathroom."