WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The former owners of Constellations Recovery, a sober living residence that once operated on Underhill Avenue in Yorktown, have agreed to pay $500,000 to the family of Hank McWilliam, an 18-year-old who died after overdosing at the facility in December 2015.
McWilliam was a Rye High School senior when he entered the for-profit Constellations Recovery on Nov. 2, 2015. Prior to that, he spent two months in an inpatient drug treatment center in Connecticut, where he was treated for his addiction to Xanax, a benzodiazepine.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 8, 2017, in New York State Supreme Court, alleged that the owners of Constellations Recovery, Tom McCrossan and Mark McGoldrick, made misrepresentations about their facility, including their staff’s expertise with Xanax.
McCrossan and McGoldrick closed Constellations Recovery in 2016, months after McWilliam’s death. They later sold the 482 Underhill Ave. residence, which continues to operate as a sober living facility.
On the morning of Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, McWilliam slept well beyond the permitted house rules, the lawsuit alleged. McWilliam allegedly told staff that he had a headache and was not feeling well. That day, McWilliam did not attend his mandated activities.
Despite the “obvious possibility of illicit drug use,” the lawsuit alleged, McWilliam’s parents were not notified of his behavior.
Around 6:30 a.m. the following day, the lawsuit alleged, a staff member noticed that McWilliam was not breathing properly and was unresponsive. Constellations Recovery staff waited 22 minutes to dial 9-1-1.
Emergency personnel arrived 7 minutes after that at 6:59 a.m., when McWilliam was found on the living room floor “unresponsive, pulseless and not breathing,” the lawsuit alleged. He could not be revived and was transported to the hospital. On Dec. 18, neurological and radiographic testing determined he was brain dead. He died Dec. 21.
The Westchester Medical Examiner’s Office found McWilliam’s cause of death was an accidental acute etizolam intoxication. Etizolam is a benzodiazepine, similar to Xanax.
According to the settlement, $166,665 of the $500,000 payout will cover attorney’s fees. Another $7,663.96 will pay for various expenses, such as town records requests, medical records, filing fees and court reporting.
The remaining $325,671.04 will be held in an interest-bearing escrow account for the estate of Hank McWilliam until the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court makes a final ruling regarding the fund’s distribution.
Hank McWilliam’s father, Jim McWilliam, told Yorktown News that he needed to speak with his attorney before commenting on the settlement.