Man who killed Lenox student gets maximum
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. >> Thomas Gorman sat with his head down and never looked at the surviving victims of the alcohol-related crash that killed a Skidmore College student from Lenox, Mass., and seriously injured two others last Halloween night.
Gorman, 65, of Wilton, was sentenced Monday in Saratoga County Court to the maximum five to 15 years in state prison along with a recommendation that he not be eligible for early parole.
Gorman previously pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault for the crash that killed 19-year-old Michael Hedges.
"This is no accident, Mr. Gorman," Judge James A. Murphy III told him during sentencing. "I don't think you can fully grasp the devastation you have caused by the choice of your criminal conduct."
Students Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith, who were also struck and suffered life-threatening injuries, read statements as did William Blauvelt, who was grazed, and Katherine Horbilt, who was with the group as they walked back to school from an off-campus party on Halloween.
"I watched my friends roll and bounce off the car," Blauvelt said. "From then on, I lost track of time."
In a post-sentencing press conference, Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen showed pictures of Gorman's damaged 2009 Kia Optima. The right front fender and grill are caved in, the windshield is smashed with a large hole, and the hood and roof have several dents indicating the force of impact.
"Michael Hedges was thrown so far that he was beyond the tree line into the woods," Heggen said.
Gorman's blood-alcohol content was 2 1/2 times the legal limit.
A tearful Horbilt described "blood-curdling screams of pain," how she held a friend's head covered in blood and heard his gurgling "sounds of breathing through a punctured lung."
"You never even got out [of your car]," she said, looking at Gorman.
Galbraith said the Halloween night tragedy was like a real-life horror movie, which for him has never ended.
"In another [hospital] room, I heard the screams of someone in unbelievable pain," he said. "Later on, I learned it was Toby."
Freeman's walk has been altered and he has not been able to participate in athletics.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Campion read a statement from Hedges' mother, Stephanie Mae Hedges.
"It is not possible to put into words my loss," she wrote. "One of my children has died and two of my children are grieving."
Michael Hedges was a National Honor Society member and was a star high school athlete in basketball, soccer and track at Lenox Memorial High School where he won several awards including Future Coach Scholar.
Campion told Murphy, based on a pre-sentencing report, "there appears to be complete failure of the defendant to acknowledge the conduct that he pled guilty to."
In 2013, Gorman was charged with driving while impaired.
Gorman read his statement dressed in dark green pants and T-shirt covered by an unbuttoned denim-style long-sleeved shirt.
"I am very sorry for the pain I have caused," he said. "I thought I had waited long enough to drive. I would never intentionally hurt someone. If I could take it all back, I would. If I could trade places, I would. I hope that one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I wish it never happened. The guilt is eating me up. I can't express enough how truly sorry I am for the pain I have caused."
But Murphy, in handing down the sentence, said the crash resulted from deliberate choices Gorman made.
As part of Gorman's agreement to plead guilty and avoid trial, Murphy could have handed down a lesser sentence of from four to 12 years. But Heggen said there was no plea agreement, because of the incident's severity, to a reduced sentence.
Heggen said Gorman was not speeding when the crash occurred. However, she said it was on a long, straight section of road and that Gorman's view was not obstructed.
"There was nothing on the roadway to indicate he took any evasive action," she said. "He just doesn't get it. There's no one that brought about this tragedy other than Thomas Gorman. No one."