Prosecutors: Child injured in drunken crash wasn’t wearing seatbelt

Lynette McDonough. (Credit: Riverhead Town Police Department)
Lynette McDonough. (Credit: Riverhead Town Police Department)

A 9-year-old boy who was hospitalized after his mother allegedly crashed her sedan into a utility pole on Middle Road Thursday while driving drunk and high was nearly thrown from the car because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, a prosecutor said at the mother’s arraignment Friday morning.

Lynette McDonough of Calverton, 38, pleaded not guilty in Riverhead Town court to charges of felony driving while intoxicated under Leandra’s Law and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.

According to the charges against her in town court, Ms. McDonough was driving west on Middle Road near Deep Hole Road in a 2005 Pontiac sedan just after noon Thursday when her car “went off the roadway onto a grassy area,” turned sideway and crashed into a utility pole.

Prosecutor Tara Laterza said Ms. McDonough’s 9-year-old son was sitting in the backseat of the car without wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. He was “partially ejected” from the sedan and suffered cuts and a dislocated shoulder, Ms. Laterza said.

The boy was taken to Stony Brook University hospital Thursday afternoon. A hospital spokesperson said the boy is currently in “good” condition, meaning he is stable, comfortable and health indicators are “excellent.” He is expected to be released from the hospital soon, the spokesperson said.

Police found that Ms. McDonough’s breath had a “strong, distinct odor of alcohol” and that she was slurring her speech, according to the court filings. Authorities said in the charges that a pending report from the Suffolk County crime lab shows Ms. McDonough was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

She was injured in the crash and taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center, police said. Ms. McDonough was later released and held in jail pending her arraignment.

Police investigate the scene of Thursday afternoon's accident on Middle Road. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Police investigate the scene of Thursday afternoon’s accident on Middle Road. (Credit: Paul Squire)

At the arraignment Friday morning, Ms. Laterza said Ms. McDonough had two recent convictions for misdemeanor charges in 2010 and 2013, both of them related to possession of “forged instruments;” however, Ms. Laterza said it wasn’t clear if those charges were in any way related to drugs.

Ms. McDonough’s attorney, Sheila Guiffrida, said her client successfully completed a county-approved program to treat substance abuse after her most recent conviction.

The attorney said Ms. McDonough has lived in Baiting Hollow for the past three years caring for her ill parents in their home. Ms. McDonough told Riverhead Town justice Richard Ehlers she was “actively” getting counseling support.

Ms. Guiffrida asked that Ms. McDonough’s bail — which had been set at $10,000 pending her arraignment — be reduced to $1,000.

Riverhead Town justice Richard Ehlers instead set bail at $25,000 cash. Ms. McDonough is due back in court next week. A grand jury will review the case to see if county charges should be filed, the prosecutor said.

A representative of Child Protective Services was also at the arraignment on Friday and issued Ms. McDonough a legal notice. However the details of it were not made publicly available.

Anyone who witnessed the accident is asked to call the Riverhead Police Department Detective Division at 727-4500 ext. 328.

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