2005-03-18 / Front Page

Police Eye Deadly Breezy Point Accident

By Brian Magoolaghan

J. R. McDermott, 18, (above) was killed last weekend when a car (left, being checked by police) struck him in Breezy Point.J. R. McDermott, 18, (above) was killed last weekend when a car (left, being checked by police) struck him in Breezy Point.

Police are probing last weekend's deadly car accident in Breezy Point to see who was behind the wheel of the car that struck and killed a teenage pedestrian, sources close to the investigation told The Wave.

Breezy Point resident Dianne Diaz, 47, told police she was driving the maroon Toyota Camry that slammed into 18-year-old Roxbury resident J.R. McDermott at the intersection of Rockaway Point Boulevard and Beach 201 Street early last Sunday morning.

Diaz, who was not present for a period of time after the accident and then came forward, was issued a speeding ticket, police said. She was allowed to go home after an Intoxilyzer test showed she had no alcohol in her blood.

But new information and conflicting accounts of the night's events had detectives interviewing a pool of possible witnesses this week to see if there was evidence to suggest Diaz's boyfriend, Eugene O'Donnell, was actually behind the wheel, law enforcement sources told The Wave.

Police are now questioning the accuracy of the accident report because several of McDermott's friends, who immediately ran to his aid but left the scene as their friend was rushed to Peninsula Hospital Center, may not have been present when the report was prepared, sources said.

Police interviewed a list of potential witnesses this week to find out if any of them saw O'Donnell behind the wheel or heard him say he was responsible, sources told The Wave. They are also looking into the events leading up to the accident and the whereabouts of those involved.

"By far the investigation is not closed," said one law enforcement source.

Diaz declined to comment to The Wave. O'Donnell could not be reached.

          being checked 
            by police being checked by police

Speculation about the accident spread through the isolated, tight knit communities this week and McDermott's relatives posted flyers on Wednesday soliciting information on the crash. "No rumors please - First Hand Knowledge Only," they said. They asked anyone with information to call Detective Saporito at (718) 217-3522.

"We're just trying to get a little more information about what happened," said one relative who did not want to give his name.

As family members sought answers and mourned the loss of their young loved one this week, the victim's mother remembered her son as a hardworking young man. McDermott was doing construction work for pocket money while taking a break from pursuing a computer science degree at Kingsborough Community College.

"He was always fiddling with a computer," said Linda McDermott-Paden, who talked with The Wave from her home in Roxbury this week.

She spoke proudly of her son's academic achievements at St. Edmund's Prep and of his service to the Roxbury Volunteer Fire Department. Her son, she said, was among the first responders when Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor.

"He was right there helping," McDermott-Paden recalled. "He was there for everybody - a very good kid."

McDermott is survived by his mother, stepfather, one brother and two sisters. Donations in his memory may be made to the Caffrey-Conroy Learning Center in Breezy Point, which was established in the late 1990s after two young girls, Lauren Caffrey and Katherine Conroy were killed in an auto accident on Rockaway Point Boulevard.

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