BY NICOLE BODE, NANCY DILLON, TAMER EL-GHOBASHY and ALISON GENDARDAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
Michael Sandy, 28, is in a coma after being chased onto Belt Parkway and hit by a car Sunday night.
Cops check blue Mazda belonging to Michael Sandy, along with bag, left in parking lot at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn.
A man found near death on the side of the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn - chased by thugs from a notorious gay pickup spot right into traffic - may have been the victim of a hate crime, police said yesterday.
Michael Sandy, a gay black man who was an interior designer for Ikea, suffered brain damage in the attack late Sunday night. The 28-year-old was in a coma and on a ventilator yesterday at Brookdale University Hospital, as his mother, father and dozens of friends prayed at his bedside.
"He can't breathe on his own," said Sandy's aunt Calypso Rose McCartha-Lewis. "He is brain damaged. We have to pray. It is a horrible, frightening thing to have happened."
Two white men grabbed Sandy shortly after he pulled into the parking lot at Plumb Beach, a known gay cruising area near Knapp St., shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, according to cops.
At some point, he broke free and ran onto the roadway, where he was struck by a car in the center lane, according to police. The driver of the car that struck Sandy did not stop.
The assailants dragged his battered body off the highway - leaving him for dead only after one rifled through his pockets, cops said.
The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating whether the assault was a bias crime - if Sandy was targeted because he is black or gay, or if the assault was simply a robbery.
"We don't have any suspects," a police source said.
Sandy, whose blue Mazda was still idling in the parking lot when police arrived, may have been planning to meet someone he encountered on an online gay chat room, his friends told police.
A witness who called 911 after seeing the attack said one of the thugs dragged Sandy's broken body off the road, made what appeared to be a pointed search of his pockets, then ran back onto the road as if looking for something. Police later found Sandy's cell phone in the road, leading them to suspect the two men may have feared their phone numbers were recorded in his phone, sources said.
Witnesses said the two men - estimated to be in their late teens or early 20s - fled the scene, leaping over sand dunes and disappearing into the park. Police removed surveillance video from a nearby 7-Eleven store, a nearby Comfort Inn and a women's homeless shelter to look for the two attackers.
Sandy was supposed to meet up with one of his former Williamsburg roommates Sunday night, but never called, friends said.
"He texted me and said he would call me later. But he never did. . . . It is very disturbing," said the ex-roommate, who asked not to be named.
Sandy's family and friends begged anyone who was in the area Sunday between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. to come forward with any details, no matter how insignificant.
"It's sad to see something like this happen to such a nice person," said Michael Crawford, 23, a dancer and one of Sandy's current roommates. "I hope it wasn't because he was gay."
With Jotham Sederstrom, Nancy Dillon and John Lauinger