MANORVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The family and members of the Suffolk County branch of Boy Scouts of America are trying to raise $100,000 to memorialize one of their own killed in a crash last September.
The parents of 12-year-old Andrew McMorris spoke exclusively with CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff about the tragic loss of their son, and the way in which the community around them has rallied to preserve and honor his legacy.
Police said Thomas Murphy, 59, was behind the wheel of a white SUV that struck five Boy Scouts walking along the shoulder of tree-lined David Terry Road in Manorville. Andrew was among the boys, ranging in age from 12 to 16 years old, who were accompanied by adult chaperones.
“The depth of my pain is deep and hollow,” said mother Alisa McMorris. “Part of me died that day, but I know going forward this is how I can live. And it’s the only way that I can.”
His parents, both Scout leaders, praised their son as a young Renaissance man.
“We have had to shift from being his parents by mothering and fathering him, to mothering and fathering his legacy and finding that bright light spirit to continue that, to nurture it,” Alisa said.
Alisa and father John say they’re strengthened by the outpouring of support from, above all, the scouting community which includes boys like Matthew Sherman.
“We wanted to replace all the negatives and sorrow, wanted to replace all the emotions of his passing with some positive and remember the beauty of his life,” said Matthew, a senior patrol leader with Troop 161.
Matthew and his co-scouts are hoping to build a camping lodge named for Andrew at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp. Money will be raised in a walk on Saturday at Shoreham Wading River High School.
“We only get through these times of tragedy together as one,” John said. “We can’t get through this alone.”
Anyone interested in donating to the Scout Troop fundraiser can call 631-924-7000 or go to sccbsa.org/mcmorris.
Murphy stayed at the scene as the victims were taken to the hospital, police said. Andrew later died of his injuries at the hospital.
Police said 15-year-old Thomas Lane, of Shoreham, was seriously hurt, while 16-year-old Denis Lane, of Shoreham, 15-year-old Kaden Lynch, of Calverton, and 15-year-old Matthew Yakaboski suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Murphy pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and aggravated driving while intoxicated. The aggravated DWI charge indicates his blood alcohol content was more than .18.
Murphy admitted on the scene to consuming three drinks at the Swan Lake Golf Club before the crash. The district attorney said he refused an offer by a colleague to drive him home – a decision he will live with for the rest of his life. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
The McMorrises did not want to address the criminal case just yet, instead choosing to focus on the values of scouting and Christmas, which Andrew epitomized.