Police & Fire

Investigation into Teen's Death at Yorktown Sober Home Remains Open

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YORKTOWN, N.Y. - An 18-year-old resident of Constellations Recovery died last month following a week-long stint in the hospital, Tom McCrossan told Yorktown News.

The teen was discovered the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 15, in a “state of distress,” said McCrossan, the owner of Constellations Recovery, a sober living home on Underhill Avenue. Police and EMTs responded to the home around 7 a.m. and resuscitated him, McCrossan said, but the teen died at the hospital on Monday, Dec. 21.

McCrossan said the cause of death is currently unknown. He said toxicology reports were performed and “everything has come up negative.”

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“There has been no indication, after several toxicology reports, of any drugs in his system,” McCrossan said.

Following the incident, several neighbors of Constellations Recovery called for a sit-down meeting with the Town Board and Police Chief Daniel McMahon. The police chief said he can not reveal much information about the teen’s death because the investigation is still open and active.

“We are currently awaiting the medical examiner’s report, and that report will take several weeks before we receive it,” McMahon said Wednesday, Dec. 30, at Town Hall.

Despite McCrossan’s statement, McMahon said his department has not received any toxicology reports back. He said McCrossan’s statement could very well be accurate, as he may be privy to information the police department is not.

“We don’t know, at this point, what caused this young man’s death,” he said. “We may never know what caused his death. We’re hoping that the medical examiner, once they do toxicology and get all the lab reports back, they’ll be able to come up with a conclusive cause of death.”

The police department is currently investigating the death as a homicide, but McMahon cautioned that the homicide investigation is due to the teen’s young age, which automatically makes it “suspicious.” He said all suspicious deaths are initially treated as homicides until proven otherwise. Constellations Recovery was also treated as a crime scene the morning of the teen’s death, he said.

“We only have one chance to get it correct,” McMahon said. “If we assume it’s a natural death and do not process the crime scene, we don’t get a second shot to go back there.”

McMahon commended the employees of Constellations Recovery for being helpful and cooperative in the investigation.

During the sit-down meeting, several neighbors expressed concern that Constellations Recovery may not be in compliance with its special use permit, which was granted by the Town Board last March. Among the complaints was that the landscaping is inadequate.

The special use permit required representatives of the sober home to meet with Town Board members six months after it opened to ensure compliance. This meeting was held Tuesday, Dec. 8, prior to the televised Town Board budget hearing. The meeting was not listed on any published agenda, which angered several neighbors.

“If you had the courtesy to let us know, we would have been there,” said Al French.

Supervisor Michael Grace said the meeting was not intended to be a public hearing.

“We didn’t keep anybody in the dark,” Grace said.

Neighbors disagreed and requested another meeting with Town Board members to go over the conditions of the special use permit. Grace said he would be amenable to that.

Other neighbors also cited the teenager’s death as more proof the sober home is being inadequately run. Neighbor Jay Kopstein, however, urged patience and sensitivity until all the facts are made available.

“If God forbid something happened in your house, you wouldn’t want everybody talking about it,” Kopstein said. “I think we have to wait until we have a definitive response from the medical examiner to see if we have an incident at all...We don’t know what the cause of death is yet. Until we know what the cause of death is, I think we’re a little bit premature in attacking the facility.”

Town Board members did not want to speculate on the incident, either, but said they are committed to holding the facility’s “feet to the fire.”

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