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Driver in fatal crash had blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit, prosecutor says

The driver in a fatal crash in Peconic last month had a blood alcohol content of 0.20%, more than twice the legal limit, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.

Kyle Flanagan, 22, who was seriously injured in the crash that claimed the life of his close friend, was arraigned in Southold Town Justice Court Wednesday afternoon on a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge. He pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Flanagan appeared in court in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace after he was released from medical care Friday, nearly three weeks after the crash. He was represented by attorney John LoTurco of Huntington.

The district attorney’s office is currently investigating whether to bring upgraded charges, the assistant district attorney, David Geller, said at the arraignment. Investigators obtained a search warrant to collect a blood sample after the crash that came back as .20%. A second blood sample was also drawn after Mr. Flanagan underwent surgery at Stony Brook University Hospital, at which point the BAC was .15%, which is still above the legal limit, according to the DA’s office.

Mr. LoTurco argued against setting bail, citing his client’s misdemeanor charge. He highlighted Mr. Flanagan’s ongoing medical needs and extensive injuries, including multiple fractures in his torso; a broken scapula; a lacerated spleen; multiple fractures in his right femur; and a collapsed lung.

He also outlined Mr. Flanagan’s time in the ROTC and recent graduation from Lafayette College, a private liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. Mr. Flanagan had planned to go to aviation school, the attorney said, and he has an extensive family history of military service. Mr. Flanagan is in grief management after the death of his friend, 22-year-old Brian Clinton.

Mr. LoTurco said the Clinton family did not wish for Mr. Flanagan to face prosecution.

Justice Eileen Powers emphasized that the family will not decide whether Mr. Flanagan is prosecuted, citing the “serious crime.”

Cash bail is prohibited in New York for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Judge Powers said that since the incident involves a death, bail may be set. 

The judge set bail at $25,000 and said Mr. Flanagan must report to a probation officer within 24 hours of paying it. Mr. Flanagan, who has no prior offenses, is due back in court Friday. He can post bail any time before the Friday court appearance, the judge said.

Mr. Flanagan was driving a 2019 Ford Ranger pickup on Wells Avenue just before dawn on Aug. 20 when the vehicle left the road and struck a tree near where the road begins to curve. Mr. Clinton was seated in the rear of the vehicle.

Mr. Flanagan’s family owns a home on Wells Road and police previously said the men had just left the home to find a better vantage point to watch the sunrise. The family had moved full-time to the Peconic home after previously living in Tarrytown, N.Y., near where the three friends involved in the crash when to high school together.

Mr. Clinton died at Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital. Another passenger, 22-year-old Malcolm Pakola of Irvington, N.Y., was also seriously injured.

Police responding to the crash detected an odor of alcohol on Mr. Flanagan’s breath, leading to the DWI charge.