A seventh-grade Shoreham-Wading River Middle School student was killed and four others were injured after a drunken driver crashed into a group of friends out on a hike in Manorville Sunday afternoon, according to officials.
The five youths, all members of Boy Scouts of America Troop 161 of Shoreham, were walking on the southbound shoulder of David Terry Road, when they were struck by a 2016 Mercedes driven by a Holbrook man, who police said had been drinking. The scouts, all ranging in age from 12 to 16 years old, were headed northbound shortly before 2 p.m., facing the vehicle as it exited the southbound lane of travel and headed toward them, according to a Suffolk County Police Department account of the incident.
The five youths were all rushed to area hospitals with two of them suffering serious injuries, according to police. Shoreham-Wading River school officials later announced that one of the youths had died.
Police identified the deceased boy as 12-year-old Andrew McMorris of Wading River.
“It is with heavy hearts that I share with you that one of our seventh grade students passed away as a result of the injuries he sustained in this horrific accident,” Superintendent Gerard Poole announced in a statement send to parents and shared on social media Monday morning. “We have also been informed that a high school student is recovering from several broken bones.”
Mr. Poole said the other students suffered less serious injuries. The district has informed parents that counseling will be available to students this week.
Suffolk police said Thomas Lane, 15, of Shoreham was the boy airlifted to Stony Brook and being treated for serious injuries. Denis Lane, 16, of Shoreham, Kaden Lynch, 15, of Calverton and Matthew Yakaboski, 15, of Calverton sustained non-life-threatening injuries, police said. Kaden and Matt are sophomores at Riverhead High School.
“Our thoughts are with all those involved in this accident and our hearts and deepest condolences with the family and friends of the student who tragically lost his life,” Mr. Poole wrote.
The students had been hiking as part of an organized scout outing on the Greenbelt Trail through Manorville, according to a calendar listing on the Troop 161 website.
Suffolk County police were outside the home of the McMorris family Monday.
The driver in the crash, Thomas Murphy, 59, of Holbrook was arraigned Monday morning on a charge of driving while intoxicated. He will also likely face upgraded charges as a result of the death.
Judge James Matthews set cash bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 bond at the arraignment at First District Court in Central Islip. He pleaded not guilty.
Mr. Murphy is a father of three who’s had multiple heart operations, according to his attorney, Stephen Flynn of Melville. The attorney said Mr. Murphy’s family is “prepared to post a significant bond.”
The assistant district attorney, who declined further comment after the arraignment, asked that Mr. Murphy’s license be suspended for gross negligence.
“It was a clear, sunny afternoon and the road was dry,” the ADA said in court.
Mr. Murphy, who admitted to drinking alcohol, refused to take a breath test at the scene and also refused a chemical test at the police station, the ADA said. A total of 18 people were walking in the group, some of whom were wearing bright red clothes.
The ADA added that Mr. Murphy has had “limited contact with the criminal justice system” prior to Sunday’s crash.
Mr. Flynn expressed condolences to the families in a brief statement to reporters following the arraignment.
“This is a tragedy for everyone,” he said. “Beyond that we have no further comment.”
Mr. Murphy is due back in court Oct. 11.
Ryan DiBernado, the scout executive and CEO of the Suffolk County Council of Boy Scouts of America, posted a message Monday morning also confirming the death of one boy.
“As part of the Suffolk County Council, our scouting family is going through a terribly painful time,” he wrote. “We offer our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, and we will support them in any way that we can. Our thoughts remain with the scouts still recovering from this incident.
“Please join us in keeping all those affected in your thoughts and prayers.”
The Riverhead Central School District also released a statement saying the district is offering grief counseling and support “to those affected within our school community.”
“We are deeply saddened to learn that two members of our student body were injured in yesterday’s accident in Manorville,” the statement said.
Margaret Rebholz, whose 16-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver in 1996, attended the arraignment Monday as a representative of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“Don’t drink and drive,” she said to reporters. “Don’t do drugs and drive. It’s so easy today with Uber and so many things … Scouts out on a Sunday afternoon. None of us are safe.”
Top caption: The scene of Sunday’s crash. (Credit: Stringer News)
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