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Aug 9, 2012 4:29 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Mattituck Woman Admits Fault In Death Of Hampton Bays Teen, Accepts Settlement

Aug 15, 2012 12:39 PM

Caroline Goss took the stand on Thursday morning, tears streaming down her face, and admitted to being drunk three years ago on the night she got behind the wheel of her Jeep and struck and killed 15-year-old Joseph Marino.

Sitting in the front row of the gallery, Dorothy Marino, the teen’s mother, sobbed.

The emotional court proceeding, which lasted roughly a half-hour in Suffolk County Supreme Court, finalized a settlement of a civil suit first filed by the Marino family in 2010. Under the deal, which avoided a civil trial, Ms. Goss was required to take the stand and admit that she was at fault in the accident—something she had not previously done. She also will pay Ms. Marino $300 a month for the next 20 years, a total of $72,000, and Ms. Marino will receive another $100,000, half from Ms. Goss’s auto insurance and half from her own.

But money was the least of Ms. Marino’s concerns.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there’s no amount of money in the world that could make up for the loss of my son,” Ms. Marino told reporters outside the courtroom. “But to have her finally admit that the reason that he is not here is because she was drunk, that’s what this is about. She had to say those words.”

Before the proceedings began, Ms. Goss, dressed in a gray suit, her blond hair pulled tightly back, clutched hands with a friend in the last row of the gallery and bowed her head in prayer.

“I just want it over—it’s going to be over soon,” she said quietly. “It’s going to be over soon.”

On August 12, 2009, Joseph was riding his bicycle on Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays when Ms. Goss struck him with her 2002 Jeep Cherokee. The teen was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center, where he died the following day. Ms. Goss had a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent at the time of the accident, according to police. Her 6-year-old son was in the passenger seat.

In 2010, Ms. Goss pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony, as well as DWI and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, and driving with an open container of alcohol, a violation. Prosecutors accepted a plea deal because witness statements and accident reconstruction showed that it was possible that Joseph swerved into the road in front of Ms. Goss’s car, which could have made it more difficult to convict her, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“I want to say that I am sorry and I want to let you know that I am completely responsible for what happened that day,” Ms. Goss said from the stand. “I wish that I could do it over. I wish that I could turn back time. I am so sorry for all of the pain you had to go through.” She said that “multiple factors” affected her state of mind the night of the accident, including an argument she had earlier in the night.

Anthony Palumbo, Ms. Goss’s attorney, said his client was the “driving force” behind the settlement deal because she did not want to put the family through the “horrendous aspects of the trial” that would force the 
family to relive the death 
of their son. “She wanted to 
ultimately seek possibly forgiveness, or just let the healing begin and provide some closure to the family,” he said.

Edmond Chakmakian, Ms. Marino’s attorney, countered Mr. Palumbo’s assertion that Ms. Goss had pushed for the settlement.

“She resisted it and balked at the amount she had to pay,” Mr. Chakmakian wrote in an email after the court proceeding. “She cared only about herself not having to go through a trial.”

Mr. Palumbo maintained that Ms. Goss “welcomed the opportunity to resolve the case.”

During her testimony, Ms. Goss said she plans to speak to students, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous groups, to share her story in the hope that it will prevent others from making similar mistakes in the future.

“Every time a drunk driver gets behind the wheel and they injure or kill someone, they are killing somebody’s child, somebody’s loved one,” Ms. Marino said outside the courtroom. “And they just don’t realize the devastation that they are causing. It’s a lifetime of pain and suffering. … They get to go on with their lives—we’ve lost a part of our lives forever.”

When asked whether in the future she could forgive Ms. Goss, Ms. Marino replied: “No, I don’t. I don’t think there is any forgiveness in this.”

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Such a sad story all around. Mrs. Marino, my heart breaks for you.
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Aug 9, 12 4:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
It's just heartbreaking ~ all because of someone's stupidity!
By AnonymousSgh (183), Sag Harbor on Aug 10, 12 7:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
What if the stupidity was the boys fault for swerving out into traffic ? There were witnesses that said this is what happened.. Many years ago I had a kid cut right across the road ( on Ponquogue Ave ) before I could even touch the brake he was there in my lane, dumb luck saved him that day .. I think this case wasnt prosecuted differently because of the witness' testimony ... Ms Goss was partially at fault because she was driving under the influence, but I feel the mitigating factor was the kid ...more
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Aug 11, 12 6:30 PM
Drunken driver with 6 year old in the car runs over innocent boy killing him .Sentence 4 months! That judge should hang his head in shame, Imagine how Mrs Marino feels.God Bless you so sorry for your loss.
By TianaBob (256), S.Jamesport on Aug 10, 12 9:59 PM
ms goss wants to share her story with people? why doesnt she share the story of how she didnt learn from her first dwi and her second one killed a innocent boy who could light up the room he walked in... making people laugh when they didnt even want to. Yea shes a great one to share her story. The marino family is incredably strong with everything they have encountered with this... stay strong guys
By Sour09 (18), Hampton Bays on Aug 11, 12 9:24 AM
What part of "DRUNK DRIVER" you dont understand?
By YXZ (32), Hampton Bays on Aug 16, 12 8:54 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By YXZ (32), Hampton Bays on Aug 16, 12 8:54 AM
I hope Mrs. Marino finds some closure to her horendous loss. I have seen the memorial on Ponquogue. It is quite the tribute. His burial site must be even more tended to.
By sgt202 (75), Hampton Bays on Aug 16, 12 2:58 PM