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Airline Honors Boy Scout, 12, Killed By Alleged Drunk Driver

Patch logo Patch 12/6/2018 Lisa Finn
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WADING RIVER, NY — Andrew McMorris, 12, a Boy Scout who was killed by an alleged drunk driver while out on a hike with his troop, loved aviation and had dreams of one day becoming a pilot.

And now, his favorite airline has honored him in a way that no doubt would make him very, very happy.

Recently, said John McMorris, Andrew's father, the Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, W. Douglas Parker, sent their family a handwritten letter of condolence, a model airplane of Andrew’s favorite airplane, the 787, and a framed copy of the social media postings the airline created in his honor.

"We are honored to consider Andrew a member of the American Airlines family," Parker wrote.

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"This has touched our hearts so much as Andrew’s mission in life was to become a pilot for American Airlines flying a 787," he said. "Thank you so much Doug Parker and American Airlines! We know Andrew is flying high in the blue skies above."

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When he died, his parents, in a statement, said: "Andrew wanted to fly before he could walk. Airplanes, helicopters and rockets were the obsession of his life, and he achieved his first piloting goal this past summer during AeroCamp. Andrew was occasionally chided by parents, coaches and teachers for 'having his head in the clouds', but for Andrew, that only made sense," his family said. "He wanted his whole self in the clouds, broken free of the bonds of this earth, borne up into an endless sky, with nothing but blue around him and horizon ahead, aloft and away. Fly high, Andrew."

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This week, Andrew's mother Alisa said their whole family wanted to thank American Airlines for a gesture that meant so much.

"Andrew really did love American Airlines — he had met an AA pilot during AeroCamp who inspired him to be serious about his studies. Taught him why all the subjects in school are important for creating a well rounded pilot — geography, math, communication skills, physical fitness; he was inspired."

The gesture of kindness from American Airlines, Alisa said, "touched our hearts deeply. Having the 787 model displayed in his room along with all the kind posts keeps his spirit alive and brings a bittersweet smile to our hearts."

She added: "Even today we continue to find little notes Andrew has left us. We were planning a family trip to the Grand Canyon next summer and we just stumbled upon a few sticky notes comparing flights to Denver with a little star next to American Airlines, with flights times and costs. He really loved American Airlines."

There are other events planned in honor of their beloved boy, Alisa said. A community run/walk, "Andrew's Run," will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. at Shoreham Wading River High School, to honor Andrew and support his Boy Scout Troop 161.

"The communities of Miller Place, Shoreham, and Riverhead were all deeply affected by this senseless tragedy, and I wanted to help as much as I can in the healing process of all those affected," she said.

"Andrew McMorris was an incredible, kind and passionate individual with insurmountable potential for his future," a flyer for the event said.

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Recently, to honor her beautiful boy, Alisa posted on Facebook about a new mission, "The Andrew Project," meant to prevent future tragedy.

The project began on Halloween. "Andrew was a huge fan of Halloween," she said. "He was always the first to decorate and he would plan his costume over the entire month. So in honor of Andrew today — be yourself, have fun, but remember . . . ."

A post on Facebook, called "The Andrew Project," urged: "You don't need to be a superhero to save someone's life. Designate a driver. Call a taxi. Take the keys."

The goal, she said, it to create "multiple arms" of The Andrew Project. Future efforts will include her son's other passions, including Scouts, arts, theater, music and aviation — and, most importantly, "his compassion and kindness for others," she said.

After Andrew died and four other Scouts were injured, tragic details emerged, as the alleged drunk driver who plowed into the troop was arraigned on a 16-count indictment — including reports that the man had been drinking since 9 a.m. and had been offered a ride due to his level of intoxication, which he refused, according to Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini.

Sini announced the indictment of Thomas Murphy, 59, of Holbrook, in connection with the deadly crash on Sept. 30 in Manorville that caused Andrew's death.

The community has been cloaked in mourning since learning that Andrew, critically injured in the crash, died.

After their son's tragic death, his family released a statement reflecting their deep heartbreak: "Andrew McMorris was no ordinary boy. Andrew was born with a sense of wonder and amazement of the world around him, and he never lost the ability to be awed by and delighted with all it had to offer. Andrew was an artful child, and he channeled his abundant creativity through painting, acting, singing, and playing his piano, guitar, mandolin and ukulele. Always up for a costume, Andrew was Tin Man in his fifth grade production of The Wizard of Oz and, of course, Michael Jackson."

Patch photos courtesy McMorris family.

Lead photo courtesy MidIsland AirService.

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