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Long IslandCrime

Driver Thomas Murphy indicted in crash that killed Boy Scout

On Thursday, Stephen G. McCarthy Jr., read a statement on behalf of his client, Thomas Murphy, who is accused of driving drunk in a crash that killed Boy Scout Andrew McMorris. Murphy's statement said he was taking responsibility for his "role" in the Sept. 30 crash. Credit: James Carbone; News 12 Long Island

The Holbrook man accused of driving drunk into a crowd of Boy Scouts, killing one of them, has been indicted on aggravated vehicular homicide, assault and other charges.

The filing of the 16-count indictment late Thursday against Thomas Murphy, 59, comes after he issued a statement outside a Central Islip courthouse that morning taking responsibility for his “role” on Sept. 30 when his Mercedes-Benz plowed into the scouts walking on a Manorville roadside. Andrew McMorris, 12, of Wading River, died the next day from his injuries.

"Nothing will bring Andrew back, but we can at least hold the defendant accountable," Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said at a Friday afternoon news conference in Hauppauge. He said there is "no excuse" for anyone to drive drunk.

"We have Uber. We have Lyft. We have cab services," he said. "Obviously, people of all ages get behind the wheel who make that stupid decision" to drive drunk.

Murphy's attorney, Stephen McCarthy Jr. of Manhattan, did not respond to requests for comment. The McMorris family declined to comment through its attorney.

Murphy is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment Tuesday before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip.

The top count in the indictment is aggravated vehicular homicide, which carries a maximum penalty of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. Other counts include lesser homicide charges, assault charges, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.

Murphy is charged with aggravated vehicular homicide under two different legal theories — killing a person while seriously injuring others and killing someone while driving with a blood-alcohol content of more than 0.18 percent. Sini declined Friday to say what Murphy's blood-alcohol level was.

Thursday's statement from Murphy did not specify what his role was or admit to any specific acts other than driving the car. McCarthy cautioned Thursday that the statement should not be interpreted that Murphy would plead guilty.

Murphy's Mercedes-Benz veered off David Terry Road and hit the group. Police said he came from the Swan Lake Golf Club, 1.6 miles along narrow, winding roads from the crash site. 

Throughout the neighborhood, trees and utility poles were decorated Friday with red ribbons bearing the number 161, representing the boys' scout troop. At the site, red ribbons, flowers and candles remained in Andrew's memory.

Other scout troops have tied banners honoring Andrew from overpasses on the Long Island Expressway. "Love and support from Troop 1176," one read. "Fly high, Andrew."

Andrew was remembered at his funeral last weekend as a compassionate child who dreamed of being an airline pilot and always looked for ways he could help others.

Murphy’s statement, which was read by McCarthy after a brief court appearance, said: “I, Thomas Murphy, want to offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and loved ones of Andrew McMorris. I take responsibility for my role in the tragic accident that occurred on September 30, 2018, which resulted in the death of a wonderful boy, and the injury of four other boys."

It went on to say he would "cooperate fully" with the district attorney's office. Sini declined to say if that had happened and would not say if Murphy testified before the grand jury that handed up the indictment.

Sini also declined to comment on Murphy’s statement, as did the McMorris family lawyer.

Murphy told police he had been drinking that morning while playing golf, according to the criminal complaint.

“Yes, I had three drinks,” Murphy said to police at the scene, according to the complaint. “Are the kids OK? I know you’re going to arrest me.”

Andrew and the injured boys were part of a group of 18 youths and adults walking as a scouting group, all wearing bright red clothes on a sunny day, a prosecutor said when Murphy was arraigned on his DWI charge. Murphy is free on a bond of $500,000.

Thomas Lane, the most seriously injured of the other boys, remains hospitalized with several fractures that require surgery, but his life is not in danger, a law enforcement source said. The others hit by the car have largely recovered.