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Driver gets six months in death of 15-year-old

Caroline Goss

Caroline Goss, the Mattituck woman who fatally struck a 15-year-old bicyclist while driving drunk in Hampton Bays last summer, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years of probation Thursday.

The sentence, part of a plea bargain proposed by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, was handed down by Justice Gary Weber at the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverside.

On Aug. 12, 2009, Ms. Goss was traveling north on Ponquogue Avenue with her 6-year-old son in the passenger seat when her Jeep Cherokee hit Joseph Marino of Hampton Bays. Joseph, who the district attorney’s office later said had swerved into the traffic lane, died the following day.

Police said Ms. Goss was driving with an open bottle of vodka in the vehicle and a blood alcohol level of .13 percent. She and her son were not injured.

Joseph’s mother, Dorothy, and others have protested outside the courthouse since Monday, claiming the sentence is too light.

Prosecutors have said it would be nearly impossible to obtain a felony conviction if the case had gone to trial. There is no evidence to prove Ms. Goss was at fault for Joseph’s death because she was not speeding. Witnesses said the boy swerved in the street just before he was hit.

“The law as it currently stands regarding vehicular manslaughter is not as simple as only having to prove that the defendant drove drunk and someone was killed,” Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli said in a statement. “Given the facts of this case, a jury could find there is a real probability that this collision would have been unavoidable for even a sober driver.”

Justice Weber agreed with the district attorney’s stance.

“The plea agreement offers the certainty of result and the greatest opportunity available to this court to protect the public,” he stated in a judicial memorandum.

Ms. Goss pleaded guilty April 20 to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, misdemeanor DWI, endangering the welfare of a child and having an open alcohol container in a vehicle.

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