Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced that Thomas H. Gorman (DOB 12-20-50), of 16 Birch Meadows Estates, Saratoga Springs, was sentenced today in the Saratoga County Court by Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy, III to an indeterminate sentence, the minimum being 5 years and the maximum being 15 years in State Prison following his conviction of Vehicular Manslaughter in the First Degree, in violation of section 125.13(1) of the Penal Law, a class “C” Felony, for causing the death of Michael Hedges. Additionally, Gorman was also sentenced by Judge Murphy to an indeterminate term of incarceration, with a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 6 years following his guilty plea to Vehicular Assault in the First Degree, in violation of section 120.04(4) of the Penal Law, a class “D” Felony, for causing serious physical injury to Oban Galbraith and Toby Freeman. Those sentences will run concurrently.
On February 1, 2016, Defendant Gorman pleaded guilty and admitted in Court that his actions on October 31, 2015 caused the death of Michael Hedges, a 19 year old Skidmore College Freshman, from Lenox, MA. Two other Skidmore College Freshman, Oban Galbraith of Vermont and Toby Freeman of New York City were also struck by Gorman’s vehicle and were seriously injured in the crash. A chemical analysis of Gorman’s blood revealed a BAC of .20, well over the legal limit of .08.
On Halloween night last year at approximately 11:15 pm, Gorman was driving his 2009 Black Kia Optima while intoxicated southbound on Clinton Street in the Town of Greenfield, on a straightaway, when he suddenly crossed over onto the gravel portion of the right shoulder where the victims, Hedges, Galbraith, Freeman and another student were walking. Gorman hit the three students and narrowly missed the fourth student, who was grazed by Gorman’s vehicle as he watched in horror as his friends were struck by Gorman’s Kia.
Following the crash, Hedges and Freeman were airlifted to Albany Medical Center. Galbraith was initially taken to Saratoga Hospital, but later transferred to Albany Medical Center, due to the seriousness of his injuries. Hedges was treated at Albany Medical Center, but subsequently succumbed to his injuries. Both Galbraith and Freeman suffered extensive injuries, from which they are still recovering.
Victim Impact Statements were delivered today in Saratoga County Court at the sentencing. Katherine Hovblit spoke on behalf of the many Skidmore students who were profoundly impacted by this tragedy. Will Blauvelt, the fourth person walking with the three struck by the Defendant, spoke and recounted how he felt as the Defendant’s car touch his arm, and then strike his three friends. Blauvelt described the horror of the scene, as well as the struggle of reliving that night over and over again. He concluded his remarks with a poem he found since the accident. He said he could not find an author or title. The poem is written from the perspective of a girl that was hit by a drunk driver- about how she did and made the right choices, yet she was the one killed by a drunk driver. Blauvelt said he thought the poem may show Defendant Gorman what he had done to others.
The two victims who survived that evening, Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith also spoke and recounted the horrific injuries they sustain, the on-going healing process they are experiencing and the impact this crash has on their lives. Each provided a powerful victim impact statement on the effects this tragic event continues to have on their lives.
Saratoga County Assistant District Attorney Patrick J. Campion handled this extremely difficult and challenging case. He addressed the Court today during sentencing. Campion noted that the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report indicates “… the Defendant has not come to terms with his responsibility for his conduct which caused the death of Michael Hedges and caused serious physical injuries to Oban Galbraith and Toby Freeman”. Given all of the factors involved in this case, Mr. Campion advocated for Judge Murphy to impose the maximum sentenced allowed in this case- 5-15 years incarceration.
District Attorney. Heggen praised the work of law enforcement in this case. “The fine work of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, given an exceptionally difficult and horrific case contributed greatly to this conviction and sentencing today. Saratoga County is fortunate to have dedicated professionals in the Sheriff’s Department whose investigation is the foundation of today’s conviction. They work daily to enforce the laws of this state. Mr. Gorman’s choice to drink, to drive, and to drive while intoxicated resulted in the tragic death of a fine young man, Michael Hedges, and will have an everlasting impact on the lives of Toby Freeman and Oban Galbraith. Additionally, the Skidmore community has been forever impacted by the defendant’s selfish choice to drink and drive.
The defendant was also sentenced to pay a surcharge of $375.00 and Judge Murphy also imposed a mandatory driver’s license revocation, as well as a three year conditional discharge consecutive to his state prison term that requires Gorman to install and maintain an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he owns or operates.