Man pleads guilty to crash that killed Skidmore student from Lenox


BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — A 64-year-old man faces up to 15 years in prison when he's sentenced next month in the Halloween night accident that killed a Skidmore College student from Lenox and injured two others.

Thomas Gorman, of Wilton, was driving drunk when the accident occurred, just north of the school's campus.

He faces from four to 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty last week in Saratoga County Court to first-degree vehicular manslaughter and first-degree vehicular assault.

Michael Hedges, 19, of Lenox, Mass., a Skidmore freshman, died the next morning from injuries sustained in the accident.

Two others — freshmen Toby Freeman, 19, of New York City, and Oban Galbraith, 18, of Shelburne, Vt. — were seriously injured, but are said to be recovering.

Hedges and one other student were airlifted to Albany Medical Center Hospital where Hedges died the next morning.

Police said students were walking on back roads near Skidmore because of an off-campus Halloween party.

Gorman was driving a 2009 black Kia Optima southbound on a straightaway at about 11:15 p.m. when he crossed onto the gravel portion of the road's shoulder and hit Hedges, Freeman and Galbraith. He grazed and narrowly missed a fourth student who "watched in horror as his friends were struck by Gorman's Kia," said a press release from Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen's office.

"Gorman admitted ... that he operated a motor vehicle while his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit," Heggen said in a statement.

She described his actions as a "callous and wanton disregard for the safety of others" that "caused the death of a talented young man and severely injured two others."

Hedges was a star athlete in basketball, soccer and track at Lenox Memorial High School, having won a number of awards, including Future Coach Scholar.

He was a member of the National Honor Society and won the Spanish Achievement Award, the National Latin Exam Award and the St. Michael's Book Award for academic achievement with a social conscience.

He was a peer mentor for younger students at Lenox Memorial and performed community service in the Native American village of Tetlin in Alaska.

Hedges frequented the Adirondack Mountains, where he enjoyed hiking, skiing and water sports and held several summer jobs.

Gorman's sentencing is scheduled before Judge James Murphy III at 1:30 p.m. on March 21 in Saratoga County Court. For vehicular manslaughter, he faces a sentence of 4 to 15 years. For vehicular assault, he faces a concurrent term of 2 to 6 years.

Also, his license will be revoked, but not permanently. In addition, upon his release from prison he must have must have an ignition interlock device for three years on any vehicle he owns and/or operates.


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