After a 2016 drunk driving crash took the life of a 17-year cyclist in Gerritsen Beach, a measure of closure has come to the case, as District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the driver was sentenced to jail yesterday for second-degree manslaughter.
Thomas Groarke, 26, of Bay Ridge was sentenced by a Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice to serve three to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to the second-degree manslaughter charge.
In July 2016, Groarke was driving a group back from a day of drinking at the Tiki Bar in Staten Island, doing about 80 mph on Gerritsen Avenue when he swerved to pass a slower vehicle, striking 17-year old Sean Ryan head on as the teen rode his bicycle in the opposite direction, killing Ryan instantly.
According to court documents, Groarke registered a .14 BAC—nearly twice the legal limit of .08—when he was tested with a breathalyzer nearly two and a half hours after the crash.
“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 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.”
After the death of Sean Ryan, members of the Gerritsen Beach community renewed their call for increased traffic lights on Gerritsen Avenue to help slow down drunk drivers.
The city responded by implementing a Vision Zero plan that created a protected two-way bike lane, reduced lanes to one in each direction and reduced the number of bus stops along the avenue, though some residents found issue with that as well, claiming their input wasn’t heard.