BOSTON (CBS) — A Brighton man has been found guilty in connection with a 2016 drunk driving crash in the Sumner Tunnel that killed his friend, 24-year-old Dillon Cohen, and seriously injured another passenger.
A judge found Craig Lawlor, 25, guilty of manslaughter by motor vehicle, motor vehicle homicide by driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving under the influence of alcohol causing serious bodily injury.
The lead offense of manslaughter by motor vehicle carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Lawlor is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 5.
In a statement, Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley said the ruling by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Linda Giles at the end of the one-week, jury-waived trial was “the right verdict.”
“This was the right verdict given the facts and the evidence,” Conley said. “This was not an accident. It was the direct result of the defendant’s reckless choices, and those choices cost Mr. Cohen his life.”
During the trial, prosecutors introduced evidence and testimony to prove that on Aug. 26, 2016, Lawlor was driving his Dodge Ram 150 pickup truck inside the Sumner Tunnel, with Cohen and the surviving victim as passengers, when he struck the right side jersey barrier, then traveled across all travel lanes and struck the left side barrier.
The truck came to a rest in the middle of the roadway.
All three men were thrown from the passenger side window of the truck as a result of the crash, which was captured on a surveillance camera inside the tunnel, authorities said.
Cohen, a Salem, N.H. resident who was sitting in the passenger’s side seat, suffered severe injuries to his head and body and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The surviving victim, who was seated in the middle seat, suffered head and spinal injuries and remained in a rehabilitation hospital more than three months after the crash.
Lawlor suffered minor injuries and was seen on surveillance video walking inside the tunnel shortly after the crash.
Evidence presented during the trial showed that before the crash, Lawlor and Cohen each drove separately from New Hampshire to Lawlor’s Brighton residence. There, Cohen parked his vehicle and entered Lawlor’s pickup truck.
The two men then traveled to an East Berkeley Street bar where they met with the surviving victim. After drinking at the establishment, the three men then traveled to a second bar, where private security cameras captured Lawlor consuming alcohol and displaying signs of intoxication.
Social media postings show the men in Lawlor’s truck as little as 20 minutes before the crash.
Lawlor’s blood-alcohol content at the time of the crash was estimated at between .23 and .26 based on blood samples taken at Tufts Medical Center.
State Police collision reconstruction experts estimated that the truck was traveling at about 74 miles per hour, more than twice the limit within the tunnel.
Though Lawlor told hospital staff and State Police investigators that he was not driving, prosecutors argued that the evidence – including video footage of the three occupants being ejected from the passenger’s window of his truck and their locations in the roadway when they came to rest – showed that Cohen was in the passenger’s seat, Lawlor was behind the wheel, and the surviving victim was between them at the time of impact.