The priest who presided over Liam Armstrong's funeral Mass Monday urged mourners, who came to say farewell to the Nesconset teen fatally struck last week by a Manhattan subway train, to talk about their grief.
"In your pain you will not find life if you seek it in drugs or alcohol. You'll find despair and disappointment," Msgr. James M. McNamara of the Parish of the Holy Cross told the mourners.
More than 600 men, women and children gathered in Nesconset for the funeral Mass, including some of Armstrong's friends from Smithtown High School East, where he was a senior.
Some wept. Others embraced as the priest spoke.
"I am keenly aware of the presence of so many young people here today," McNamara said. "I know you are hurting. I know your enthusiasm for life has been struck down by this tragedy."
The priest encouraged them to talk to him and others about their loss.
Armstrong and two friends -- Dakota Walsh and Ryan Van Duyne -- were on their way to Greenwich Village last Tuesday night to celebrate his 18th birthday, but the trio had mistakenly boarded a northbound train near Central Park. At the West 79th Street and Broadway station, one friend crossed four tracks to the downtown platform on foot, and Armstrong was following when he was struck and killed by the northbound No. 2 express train. The third friend stayed behind.
Transit police found Armstrong's backpack on the tracks; inside was a broken bottle of rum. The New York City medical examiner's office ruled his death an accident.
One mourner, Susan Walsh, mother of Dakota Walsh, said Armstrong was a loyal friend who never walked away from those he cared about.
"He had the purest of heart," she said. "He loved his friends. He loved his family, and he was just a boy [who] wanted to have fun."
Chief Steven E. Skrynecki of the Nassau County Police Department, a friend and colleague of Armstrong's father, Christopher Armstrong, a detective sergeant, said he did not know the teen but was supporting the family.
"As you can imagine, this is the most horrible time in the life of the Armstrong family, and we, the police department . . . are all here to show our support to the Armstrong family in the most difficult of time."
Pallbearers carried Armstrong's casket from the church, where the funeral procession was met by the Nassau County Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums.
Armstrong was buried at St. Charles Cemetery in East Farmingdale.