The 26-year-old Bay Ridge man who fatally struck a recent Xaverian High School graduate who was riding his bike in Gerritsen Beach in 2016 has been sentenced to up to nine years in prison, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.
According to the investigation, at approximately 8:45 p.m. on July 17, 2016, the defendant, Thomas Groarke, was driving a 2015 Honda Accord, returning with four passengers from a day of drinking at the Tiki Bar in Staten Island, when his vehicle crossed the center median and struck 17-year-old Sean Ryan, who was riding his bike in the other direction, killing him instantly.
Evidence showed Groarke to be driving approximately 80 miles per hour on Gerritsen Avenue when, near the intersection of Florence Avenue, he swerved to pass a slower vehicle. That, officials say, is when he crossed the painted divider.
The defendant’s blood alcohol level – measured about two and a half hours after the crash – was nearly twice the legal limit.
“This defendant’s reckless and criminal driving took the life of a promising teenager who was doing nothing more than riding his bike,” said District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. “I am determined to continue prosecuting dangerous motorists who kill others on Brooklyn’s roadways, which should be safe for everyone who uses them.”
Ryan’s death sparked outrage and even resulted in a petition launched by State Senator Marty Golden which garnered over 1,500 signatures and called for increased traffic lights and speed bumps along Gerritsen Avenue, where the collision occurred.
Groarke, who was 24 at the time of the incident, was sentenced on Monday, May 14 following his guilty plea in March to second-degree manslaughter.