The driver responsible for crashing into a group of Boy Scouts and killing a 12-year-old Wading River boy has been indicted on upgraded charges and now faces a top charge of aggravated vehicular homicide, the Suffolk County district attorney announced.
Thomas Murphy, 59, of Holbrook had originally been charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated for his role in the Sept. 30 crash in Manorville that left four other Boy Scouts injured. Andrew McMorris, a seventh grader at Shoreham-Wading River Middle School, died from his injuries.
The 16-count indictment features 10 felony charges. Mr. Murphy faces up to 25 years in prison for the aggravated vehicular homicide charge.
Other charges listed include second-degree vehicular manslaughter, aggravated DWI and second-degree assault, among others.
“Our deepest sympathies are with Andrew McMorris’ loved ones, in the wake of this unbelievable tragedy,” said District Attorney Timothy Sini at a press conference Friday afternoon. “Nothing will bring Andrew back. But we can at least hold the defendant accountable for his actions and yesterday’s indictment is the first step in that process.”
Mr. Murphy’s attorney, Stephen McCarthy Jr. of Manhattan, issued a statement Thursday on behalf of Mr. Murphy. In it, Mr. Murphy offered sympathy to the families and he said “I take responsibility for my role in the tragic accident.”
“I also want to offer my sympathy to the families of the other injured boys, Thomas Lane, Denis Lane, Kaden Lynch and Matthew Yakaboski,” the statement said. “I will cooperate fully with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office during their investigation of this tragic accident.
“Again, I am deeply sorry. Myself, and my family, offer our prayers to the McMorris family in this extraordinarily painful and difficult time.”
Mr. Murphy pleaded not guilty to his original charge of misdemeanor DWI. His case Thursday in First District Court in Central Islip was adjourned. His next court date to be arraigned on the indictment will now be Tuesday, the DA said. He has been free on $500,000 bond.
Mr. Sini declined to comment on Mr. Murphy’s statement, but said “he presented his case in a thorough manner to the grand jury.”
Police took a blood sample from Mr. Murphy, after obtaining a warrant, on the afternoon of the crash. He had refused a breath test at the scene, prosecutors said. The blood sample was taken at approximately 5:42 p.m., more than three hours after the crash, according to the criminal complaint.
The results of the blood alcohol test were not released yet, but the charges indicate it would be above .18, which is more than twice the legal limit of .08.
“At this point, I can only detail what was in the indictment, that it was .18 or above,” Mr. Sini said. “At the arraignment you will be provided with more details and that will include his exact BAC.”
Mr. Sinai said while increased awareness has made it less likely for people to drink and drive, “people will get behind the wheel and make stupid decisions.”
Top photo: Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini announces the upgraded charges at a press conference Friday afternoon. (Credit: Kate Nalepinski)
CORRECTION: The next court appearance for Thomas Murphy is Tuesday, not Oct. 25. According to a DA spokesperson, the date was changed.