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Mom of Scout run over in 2018: 'His face was the darkest shade of purple'

The Shoreham mother of a 15-year-old boy, struck by an allegedly drunken driver during a Boy Scout hike in 2018, testified Monday at Arthur M. Cromarty Criminal Court Complex in Suffolk County.  (Credit: James Carbone)

The parents of a 15-year-old boy, struck by an allegedly drunken driver during a Boy Scout hike in Manorville in 2018, broke down as they testified Wednesday about their son's devastating injuries and his monthslong path to recovery.

Kevin and Colleen Lane of Shoreham were emotional as they told the jury separately, their voices often cracking, about the pain endured by their son, Thomas Lane, in the hours after he was struck by a Mercedes SUV driven by Thomas Murphy of Holbrook. 

Colleen Lane wiped away tears as she recounted the moment she saw Thomas laying on a hospital gurney after undergoing surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital shortly after the Sept. 30 crash, a medical device protruding from his skull.

"His face was the darkest shade of purple I've ever seen," Lane said as she testified at Murphy's trial in Riverhead. "There were tubes in his nose and mouth and he was unconscious."

Both of Thomas Lane's legs were fractured during the crash as was his right orbital bone; his nose and right ankle were broken and he suffered a brain bleed, according to Dr. Erica Gross, a Stony Brook pediatric surgeon who treated the teen and also testified Wednesday.

Prosecutors contend Murphy, 60, spent the morning of Sept. 30 downing vodka at the Swan Lake Golf Course in Manorville before driving into Scouts from Troop 161, who were on a 20-mile hike and walking on the shoulder of David Terry Road. 

The crash killed 12-year-old Andrew McMorris of Manorville and injured Lane, his older brother, Denis Lane and Kaden Lynch of Calverton.

Murphy has pleaded not guilty to a 16-count indictment charging him with aggravated vehicular homicide, assault and driving while intoxicated. If convicted, he faces 8⅓ to 25 years in prison.

Kevin Lane, an assistant scoutmaster who was on the hike, used a handkerchief to dab tears as he recalled rushing over to his youngest son only seconds after he was struck.

"He was screaming. Yelling. He was hurting," Lane recalled. "I was just grateful he was still breathing."

And Lane also shared that only moments before the crash, Thomas had switched spots in line with his older brother.

"Denis was supposed to be the one who got hit," Kevin Lane said of the last-minute switch.

Thomas spent five days in the hospital and another week in outpatient rehabilitation. The family built a wheelchair ramp to help him get in and out of the home and a first-floor den was converted into Thomas' bedroom, equipped with a hospital bed, commode and portable shower.

It would be six weeks before Thomas could walk again and another two weeks before he would return to school, Lane said. 

Before the crash, Thomas was active and athletic, playing volleyball and running track, Colleen Lane said. Nearly 14 months later, Thomas is still not the same, she said, although he has joined his school's tennis team.

"When he gets in and out of the car, he's very stiff," she said, comparing her teenage son's movements to those of a senior citizen.

Alisa McMorris, Andrew's mother, said Lane's testimony was "heartbreaking" to relive. 

"Andrew was two rooms down from Thomas the entire time in the ICU. We went through this together," McMorris said after court. "When Andrew passed, his body had to go past their room as they were still fighting for their child's life. It's heartbreaking to listen to it; to endure it and to know that it was … 100 percent preventable."

McMorris said she is not planning to testify.

Steven Politi, Murphy's defense attorney, questioned the Lanes about their relationship with Suffolk Police Det. Genevieve Vesely, the lead investigator into the crash. Vesely lives two doors down from the Lanes and has sons involved with Troop 161. Politi has argued that Vesely should have handed the case off to another investigator.

The Lanes said they never socialized with the detective and that their conversations with Vesely after the crash were often brief and routine.

Politi pressed several other points to bolster his case that Murphy does not bear responsibility for the crash.

He contends that not all of the Scouts were wearing brightly colored clothing that would make them conspicuous to motorists.

And he suggested that, earlier in the hike, the group had crossed other Suffolk roadways in an unsafe manner and in locations that were not always visible to drivers.  

Politi also repeatedly returned to a lawsuit, filed by the Lanes, against Murphy, Swan Lake Golf Course, the facility's food and beverage caterer, Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven. The two municipalities, Politi said, were included in the suit because they were "negligent and reckless" in failing to properly maintain David Terry Road.

Politi questioned Kevin Lane about why he would allow the boys to hike along the side of a road that his suit now contends is poorly designed.

But Lane responded that the suit "was brought to correct the injustice brought to our family," and that the county and town were named as defendants at the recommendation of his attorney.

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