Suspect allegedly on drugs arraigned in death of boy

January 31, 2012 2:02:52 PM PST
Surrounded by dozens of family and friends, Teri and Kevin Gaffney made an emotional pilgrimage to a Suffolk County courtroom to stare down the man police say killed their five-year-old son John.

"John will never see his sister and his brother and family and friends because of this mistake that he made," said Lynn Crisci, a family friend.

Prosecutors said 30-year-old Steven Kinalis of Ronkonkoma took a cocktail of prescription drugs, and hit the sunrise highway early last month. He reportedly was speeding and weaving through traffic before slamming into Gaffney's pickup truck.

Just two days earlier, Kinalis had been to three different doctors; one of whom prescribed almost five hundred oxycodone pills, half of which were already gone by the time of the crash.

Dr. Thomas Jan is an expert in addiction and in pain management, and said a small handful of his peers have fueled the craze of so-called doctor shopping, turning an already serious drug crisis into an epidemic. He wants the state to create a real-time database linking doctors and pharmacists. Each legitimate prescription is logged into the system before the patient even walks into a pharmacy.

Jan said one person dies from a prescription overdose every 19 minutes, a number that doesn't factor in collateral damage like the four people massacred in a Medford drug store, the ATF agent killed breaking up a robbery or the five-year-old John Gaffney heading with his family to buy a Christmas tree.

"Who would ever think that going out to get a X-mas tree would end up like this," said Crisci.

Prosecutors have not named the doctor who prescribed those pills, but say he or she is the subject of a special grand jury investigation and may well be charged. Meantime, that proposal for a real time drug database has already been sent to the state legislature by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.