When Andrew McMorris went to aviation camp this past summer, the chatty 12-year-old came home intent on becoming an astronaut.
When Andrew and his family took a trip to London, the seventh-grader at Albert Prodell Middle School in Shoreham read up on the city and acted like everybody’s tour guide, his family members said.
On Monday, Andrew’s grandfather, Craig Abatelli, and others who loved the brown-haired Boy Scout from Wading River, were grieving his tragic death, expressing anger over how and why he died, and remembering his zest for life.
“He would sit on the stoop and wait for me,” said Abatelli, 69, of Beverly Hills, Florida, recalling visits with his grandson.
Andrew was among five Boy Scouts struck by a driver who police said was intoxicated. The Scouts, from Troop 161 in Shoreham, were walking along the shoulder of David Terry Road on Sunday afternoon as part of a hike through the woods when a 2016 Mercedes-Benz struck Andrew and four other boys, Suffolk police said.
Andrew died of his injuries Monday, police said. The other boys were injured, one seriously. Thomas Murphy, 59, of Holbrook, the driver of the Mercedes, was taken into custody Sunday at the scene, police said.
He faces a charge of driving while intoxicated and prosecutors said Monday they expect to file additional charges.
“It’s just not right,” said Doris Schaefer, 85, related to Andrew on his father’s side and known as “grandma” to the boy. “You can’t drink and drive.”
Schaefer said she watched Andrew grow over the years, from a little boy into an adolescent with a changing voice.
“That young man meant the world to me,” she said. “I loved to watch him come in and talk with that deep voice.”
She liked to say that even though Andrew was just a kid, he had lived more life than her — skiing in the winter, trips to Hawaii and Europe.
Recalling that made her chuckle but then came the grief.
“He had everything to live for,” Schaefer said.
Over the years, Abatelli said, he and Andrew made a water-activated rocket launcher together. They played croquet. They flew a foam airplane in the yard “till my legs gave out,” Abatelli said.
When Andrew wasn’t wearing his Boy Scout uniform, Abatelli said, he was drawing, playing video games or taking a hike with his Boy Scout buddies, with his father, a troop leader, among them.
Father and son “bonded very well,” Abatelli said. Dad had the big Scout uniform, Andrew the smaller one.
On Monday, Abatelli spent time looking at a gift from Andrew, a drawing of a winter scene with a barn, a mountain and a snowman.
They shared a love of aviation, and the grandfather would “spoon feed” Andrew lessons about flight and space travel.
“I’d say ‘Right now you’re too young [for a pilot’s license],’ " said Abatelli. “ ‘But there’s nothing stopping you from learning.’ "