As the sun set Sunday evening, more than 200 Scouts gathered on an open lot across from the Mastic Fire Department.
The Scouts — boys and girls from nearly 50 troops across Suffolk County — had gathered in remembrance of Andrew McMorris, a 12-year-old Wading River boy killed by an alleged drunken driver in Manorville while out on a hike with fellow Scouts one week earlier.
Sunday’s candlelight vigil — which included remarks from several pastors, New York State Assemblyman Dean Murray and Scout leaders — marked the third consecutive day Scouts had gathered to pay their respects to Andrew and his family. On Saturday, they saluted as the funeral procession arrived at Trinity Lutheran Church in Islip. On Friday, they stood outside Branch Funeral Home in Miller Place during Andrew’s wake, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as a flag hung from two fire trucks.
The voice of Pastor Michael Staneck projected through the speakers to the crowd Friday.
“This is not where we should be tonight on a Friday evening in October,” he said. “Andrew should be home with Arianna doing what brothers and sisters do. It should be a night of getting ready to see what the weekend has in store, whether it was going to be another scouting adventure or whether it was going to be another lesson or play a little more on his flight simulator.”
Pastor Staneck spoke of the Sunrise fire of 1995 that damaged much of the Pine Barrens in Manorville a decade before Andrew was born. All that was left was ashes, he said. Even now, as the vegetation flourishes once again, the scars of those fires still remain.
“Sunday, another tragedy struck the Pine Barrens,” he said. “As you and the Scouts and Andrew and those that were with him suffered a tragedy that is beyond our understanding and beyond our comprehension, where a life and many lives were reduced to ashes.
“This is not where we should be, this is not where we could be, this is where are.”
On Saturday morning at Trinity Lutheran, where red ribbons adorned buildings, poles and trees, hundreds more Scouts lined up to pay tribute to Andrew as the funeral procession arrived with a police motorcade escort.
A program for the services featured a photo of the adventurous boy in the outdoors standing high atop a rock looking out at the horizon, his hands at his hips, with the world in front of him.
In his remarks Friday, Pastor Staneck said: “We will celebrate the life of Andrew. We will cry, we will mourn, we will weep. Yet we will do so, always knowing that our God is in control.”
Photos from Saturday’s funeral
Photos from Sunday’s Candlelight Vigil