A Toms River man has admitted to driving drunk in the February crash that killed his friend and former classmate at Monsignor Donovan High School, now known as Donovan Catholic High School.
Connor P. Hanifin, 19, of Toms River entered a guilty plea to charges of vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated. Prosecutors are seeking a 42 month-long prison term, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
The crash killed Francis Duddy, 19, Hanifin’s former classmate who was also the son of the high school’s head football coach.
The events of the case unfolded on Feb. 8, 2014 at approximately 1:36 am, when the Toms River Police Department responded to a report of an accident at a cul-de-sac at the end of Yellowbank Road. Arriving officers found Hanifin’s Honda Civic in the woods pinned vertically against several trees, with the front end resting on the ground. The car’s roof was against the tree line and the trunk of the vehicle pointing towards the sky, Della Fave said.
Hanifin and Duddy, the two occupants of the Civic, were still in the vehicle as rescuers arrived. Hanifin was extricated from the vehicle and flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center; Duddy was declared dead at the scene by the Ocean County Medical Examiner.
According to investigators, the evidence at the scene indicated the Honda Civic, which was being driven by Hanifin, was traveling west on Yellowbank Road at an unsafe speed when it approached the intersection of Vaughn Avenue, where Hanifin lost control of the vehicle on the curve prior to hitting the trees.
During the investigation of the scene Toms River police officers found alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle, Della Fave said. The blood sample obtained from Hanifin was taken to an independent laboratory to determine whether Hanifin had any substances in his system at the time of the collision. The results showed he had a blood alcohol content that exceeded the legal limit.