Pedestrian killed in Lake Ronkonkoma; driver faces DWI charge

Left, Thomas Vaughan, 59, was driving a 2007

Left, Thomas Vaughan, 59, was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer west on Express Drive North in Lake Ronkonkoma when he hit a man who was in the traffic lane, police said. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, right. (March 24, 2013) (Credit: SCPD, James Carbone)

A pedestrian was killed in Lake Ronkonkoma early Sunday after being struck by a man later charged with driving drunk, Suffolk County police said.

Thomas Vaughan, 43, of 39 Cornelia Lane in Lake Grove, was driving a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer west on Express Drive North in Lake Ronkonkoma at 2:30 a.m. when he hit a man who was in the traffic lane, police said.

According to court documents, police said Vaughan told them he was driving home from The Emporium bar in Patchogue and that he drank a couple of beers. Police said he told them he was driving on Expressway Drive North, "when someone ran out in front of his vehicle causing the accident."


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Police said in documents that Vaughan had slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and trouble balancing, and that they detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.

The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Suffolk County medical examiner's office, police said. His identity was withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

Vaughan was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. He was arraigned Sunday at First District Court in Central Islip. Judge Ann Spelman set Vaughan's bail at $5,000 cash or $10,000 bond and he is due back in court Monday. The prosecution originally asked for $250,000 bail. Spelman also suspended Vaughan's license.

Prosecutors said in court that Vaughan had a DWI conviction in September 1990, so the recent charge will likely be upgraded to a felony. Blood-alcohol tests are pending, prosecutors said.

Vaughan was represented by the Legal Aid Society.

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