Man sent to prison for 2016 crash that killed 8-year-old boy in Derry Township
Augustus Anderson had his entire life ahead of him.
The 8-year-old from Derry Borough wanted to be a paleontologist when he grew up, loved dinosaurs and was infatuated with movies such as “Jurassic Park,” “Star Wars” and any film with John Wayne, his family said. He also enjoyed to hunt and fish.
Family members and friends, through sorrow and anger, told a Westmoreland County judge on Wednesday how they miss the boy killed two years ago in a violent car crash caused by a driver high on opioids in Derry Township.
“Part of me died that day with Gus. I still cry to this very day,” said grandmother Linda George. “I question God as to why this happened. I’ll probably never get over this. I wish it was me that it happened to that day.”
Adam Duffy, 33, of Josephine, Indiana County, pleaded guilty Wednesday to four charges in connection with the June, 27, 2016, fatal crash on Route 22, near Stone Jug Road, east of New Alexandria. Police said it was shortly after noon when Duffy’s 1998 Ford Explorer hit the back of Anthony Anderson’s 2000 Subaru Impreza while it was stopped at a traffic light.
Anderson was severely injured in the crash and could only watch as his young son, riding as a passenger in the vehicle, could not be rescued.
“I remember blood coming out of my son’s face, and I couldn’t get him out,” Anderson testified as he choked back tears during Duffy’s sentencing hearing. He recalled seeing the boy’s body for the last time as he received last rites in a Latrobe hospital before being flown to Pittsburgh for further medical treatment.
“I long for death for me to see him again,” Anderson told the judge.
About a dozen witnesses, including the boy’s parents, grandparents and other relatives, including several young cousins, testified how they’ve been impacted by the tragedy.
“This is unbearable and the greatest loss I have ever known,” said Augustus’ mother, Jamie Anderson. “Augie was priceless. I want justice for my son.”
Duffy pleaded guilty to a felony count of homicide by vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, aggravated assault while drunk driving and two charges of drunk driving. He was sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Christopher Feliciani under terms of a negotiated plea bargain that call for him to serve five to 10 years in prison and an additional 10 years on probation.
Police said Duffy had morphine, oxycodone and Xanax in his system at the time of the crash.
“The opioid addiction problem doesn’t get any worse than this. You chose to use drugs,” Feliciani said. “There is no reason to explain why an 8-year-old boy died because of the opioid addiction in this county. There is no way to explain it.”
Duffy has a lengthy criminal history dating to 2013 in which he has been convicted of drug charges and thefts. He told the judge he attended a three-week drug rehabilitation program in 2014.
“The pain I caused should never be excusable, and the best way I can show I am remorseful is by my future actions,” Duffy said. “I hope this can bring closure, and I am terribly sorry.”
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.