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A simple message after a painful Manorville tragedy: Don't drink and drive

At a news conference Wednesday in Greenlawn, Alisa

At a news conference Wednesday in Greenlawn, Alisa McMorris stands with her husband John McMorris as he holds a framed photo of their son Andrew, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2018. Credit: Raychel Brightman

A coalition of elected officials, law enforcement and a family touched by a 2018 Manorville tragedy want to bring home the message to not drink and drive.

They held a news conference in Greenlawn Wednesday to underscore the need to prevent unnecessary deaths in the midst of the "100 Deadliest Days," the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when fatal teen crashes increase dramatically, according to AAA.

Alisa and John McMorris, parents of Andrew McMorris, the Boy Scout killed by a drunken driver in 2018 while on a troop hike in Manorville, joined with elected officials and other leaders to address the matter after a recent uptick in DWI and distracted driving deaths.

Alisa McMorris said she is working to get the U.S. Senate to pass the Reduce Impaired Driving for Everyone Act. The legislation calls for the installation of technology in vehicles that allow driver monitoring systems that can detect signs of distracted, impaired or fatigued driving. A companion bill in the House has already passed.

"We switched our grief into action," McMorris said. "From parenting Andrew to parenting his legacy."

Joining the couple were Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, Suffolk County Police Department Second Precinct Inspector William Scrima, Huntington Deputy Supervisor Ed Smyth, Huntington Town Board Member Eugene Cook and Richard Mallow, Mothers Against Drunk Driving's national vice president of field operations.

"There is no reason to get behind the wheel if you are impaired," Lupinacci said. "Designate a driver before you start drinking, hire a ride share and of course don’t text and drive."

Smyth said the same prohibitions against imbibing apply to boating. He also called on bars, catering facilities and restaurant owners to play their part in keeping intoxicated drivers off roads.

"Take the opportunity now to do additional training for your bartenders, your servers, your wait staff, your managers on identifying the visible signs of intoxication with your patrons," Smyth said. "It is your responsibility whether you think it’s fair or not, it is your responsibility as a licensed establishment to substitute your judgment for theirs in making sure they get home safely and don’t drive home."

Scrima said that within his precinct and countywide, there has been increased DWI enforcement because of the recent fatalities. He said since Memorial Day there has been a 36% increase in arrests related to DWI accidents and a 35% increase in related arrests overall.

Cook's message was simple.

"Please don’t drink and drive," he said.

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