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Woodlawn grieves for student crash victim

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Pierce O’Reilly

Family, friends and neighbors were united in their grief as the remains of Woodlawn resident Michael Mahoney were removed from St. Barnabas Church on Monday. The packed congregation stood in silence as the coffin was slowly lowered from the altar. Mahoney, a popular young man who was remembered for having been "full of the joys of life," was killed on March 28 after the car he was traveling in was involved in an accident on the Taconic State Parkway.

Mahoney, who was 20 and a student at Westchester Community College, was critically injured in the accident and died a short time later at St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie. The accident occurred at 5:30 a.m. between Rte. 82 and Bogardus Lane when four friends from the Bronx were returning home after a night out with college mates in Poughkeepsie.

Mahoney was a backseat passenger in the car, which was driven by one of his friends.

Police confirmed that the car driver, Michael Higginbotham, lost control of the car on the southbound Taconic about half an hour north of the Bronx. The vehicle overturned on the parkway and ended up on the opposite side of the road.

Higginsbotham was arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide, and misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. He was sent to Dutchess County jail and bail was set at $5,000 cash or a bond of $15,000. He is scheduled to appear before town of east Fishkill court on May 4.

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"We’re just devastated," a family friend, Dympna Tully, said this week. "The hearts of the community go out to the family."

Tully’s son Padraig was one of Mahoney’s best friends. He would have been with the other students that night if it weren’t for "the grace of God," according to his mother.

"All the lads were very close and excellent friends," Tully said. "They all went to Stepinac High school together and they just enjoyed life to the full.".

Mahoney was well known in the Woodlawn area and his cheerful and pleasant personality and his sporting interests made him one of the most popular students at the Westchester college.

The celebrant at the funeral Mass, Msgr. Francis X. Toner, said that Mahoney would always be remembered as a young, vibrant and generous man.

"Micheal’s soul will never die.," Toner said. "His love, his generosity and his talents will live forever in our memory."

Mahoney was a devoted Catholic and was a regular at Sunday evening Mass at St. Barnabas, where he would help with the church collections.

"Michael was such an honest lad, like his twin brother, John," Toner said.

During the offertory procession, the choir sang "Our Lady of Knock" while the tears flowed down the still faces of the hundreds of friends that clung to flowers. The funeral cortege then moved slowly to the local cemetery where family and friends said goodbye for the last time.

Mahoney is survived by his parents, Patrick and Catherine, his sister, Eileen, and brothers Patrick, Thomas, Richard and John.

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