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Aug 19, 2009 12:18 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

15-year-old boy hit by alleged drunk driver succumbs to injuries

Aug 19, 2009 12:18 PM

A 15-year-old boy from Hampton Bays was removed from life support last Thursday night, August 13, about 24 hours after Southampton Town Police said he was hit by a drunk driver while riding a bike near his home.

With the death of the teenager, Joseph Marino of Hampton Bays, the case against the accused driver, 34-year-old Caroline Goss of Mattituck, is on hold while prosecutors consult a grand jury to determine if more charges will be added to the list of charges Ms. Goss faces, including DWI.

Ms. Goss, who police said was driving drunk with her 6-year-old son in the car, was traveling north on Ponquogue Avenue on Wednesday, August 12, at around 8:40 p.m. when she struck Joseph, who was partially in the road and not wearing a helmet. Ms. Goss answered her cell phone just as Joseph swerved into the road on his bike, according to attorney Colin Astarita of Southampton, who originally represented her after her arrest.

Joseph was less than a mile from his Old Riverhead Road home at the time of the accident. Police said he was stopped on his bicycle and talking to friends on Ponquogue Avenue near the northeast corner of the intersection with Argonne Road East when he was hit by the 2001 Jeep Cherokee driven by Ms. Goss.

Joseph was transported by Suffolk County Police Medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he was treated for undisclosed injuries. No other injuries were reported in the accident.

Prosecutors on Friday said Ms. Goss had a blood alcohol content of 0.13 percent following last week’s accident. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

According to court records, Ms. Goss’s DWI arrest after last week’s fatality was not her first: In 2003, she was arrested after a traffic stop in Riverhead and was charged with DWI. She later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, driving while ability was impaired by alcohol, and paid a $435 fine.

Last Thursday, August 13, his mother and father, Dorothy and Phil Marino of Hampton Bays, learned that their son was brain dead, according to Edmond Chakmakian, a spokesman and attorney for the family. The teen was taken off life support at around 9:30 p.m. His parents had said they planned to donate his organs.

Mr. Chakmakian described Joseph as a fun-loving, athletic teen who would have entered the 11th grade at Hampton Bays High School in September.

“They are absolutely distraught,” Mr. Chakmakian said of the Marino family, adding that Joseph’s brother, Anthony, a student at the University of Rhode Island, was taking the news particularly hard.

Hampton Bays High School Principal Chris Richardt described Joseph as a good math student who had recently taken up weightlifting and hoped to try out for the school’s football team in the fall. He also said that Joseph was a trumpet player and that he and his family were heavily involved in the school’s music program.

“Joey is a good kid,” Mr. Richardt said on Friday morning, just moments after he learned of the boy’s death. “He has close relationships with a lot of faculty and staff here.”

The school’s psychologist will be available to offer grief counseling to students for as long as needed, according to the principal.

Town Police said Ms. Goss had left a friend’s home in Hampton Bays just prior to the crash. The night before, Ms. Goss posted on her Facebook account that she was “looking forward 2 spending the next 6 days off with my boys. Tomorrow all day at the ocean.”

Prosecutors are still waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine if Ms. Goss had any drugs in her system when she struck Joseph with her car. Those results might not be available for at least two weeks, according to a release from the Suffolk County DA’s office.

Ms. Goss, who is a nurse at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson, was charged with DWI and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, and driving with an open container of alcohol, a violation. She was transferred to police headquarters and arraigned last Thursday, August 13, in Southampton Town Justice Court. She was ordered remanded to the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead.

Ms. Goss was released on Friday after posting $20,000 bond and was scheduled to return to Southampton Town Justice Court on Wednesday, August 19, for a conference hearing. Ms. Goss’s attorney, Anthony Palumbo of Mattituck, said the DA’s office will most likely adjourn the case for a month to investigate the possible upgrading of charges.

Any additional charges that may be filed against her will be filed by the district attorney’s office. Robert Clifford, a representative of that office, said it will be up to a grand jury to review the case and decide whether to file additional charges. It is not clear how long that process will take.

“When the blood toxicology screens for the presence of drugs are available and the analysis of the accident reconstruction is complete, the evidence will be presented to a grand jury,” District Attorney Thomas Spota was quoted as saying in the press release issued on Friday.

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