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Distraught Family, Friends Try To Come To Grips With L.I. 5-Year-Old’s Death

Call For Stiff Penalties Against Accused DWAI Driver Steven Kinalis
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Steven Kinalis (credit: Suffolk County PD)

Steven Kinalis (credit: Suffolk County PD)

WEST ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island man could face murder charges after police say he drove under the influence of drugs and killed a 5-year-old boy.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the little boy and his family were heading to a Christmas tree farm.

Relatives said the grief-stricken Gaffney parents were inconsolable inside the family’s West Islip home on Monday. On the porch outside was a child’s car seat, chalk, and treasured faint etchings “mom-daddy” — printed on the door by a 5-year-old.

Kindergartner John Gaffney was killed during a trip out east with his dad, mom, sister and brother to buy the family Christmas tree when their pickup truck was violently rear-ended along the Sunrise Highway near Shirley by a driver who police say was high on drugs.

“We’re all washed up … we cry,” said Phyllis Gaffney, the little victim’s grandmother.

She said no one has been able to come to grips with the horrible, senseless heartbreak.

Her cherished grandson succumbed to his injuries at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

“A day and a half watching him die, for no reason. He was such a lovable boy,” the woman said.

Steven Kinalis, 30, was charged with driving while under the influence of drugs. He is being held on $150,000 cash bail. Suffolk’s district attorney believes charges will be upgraded. Inside the suspect’s Ronkonkoma home, a voice from within expressed condolences to the family of the 5-year-old.

Neighbors of the shattered family were also emotional Monday, saying such things as “heartbreaking,” “penalties should be much stiffer” and “Irresponsible … he’s irresponsible.”

“Very sad for the family having to be without a child at Christmas,” another neighbor said.

The community is now rallying around the Gaffney family, hoping to provide much-needed love and support during the holidays.

The next court date for suspect Kinalis is Wednesday. He will then learn if charges against him will be upgraded.

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