Thursday, July 20, 2006

Requiescat in Pace

The Diocese of Rockville Center is mourning one of it's own after Msgr. William Costello was struck and killed by a repeat drunk driver who was on the road with a suspended license.

A woman driving with a suspended license from a previous DWI arrest fatally ran down a priest and was ordered held Wednesday on $100,000 bail at her arraignment on drunken-driving and other charges, police and prosecutors said.

The woman's blood-alcohol reading was 0.28, more than three times the legal limit of 0.08, at the time of her arrest, said Robert Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Karen Fisher, of East Hampton, was driving a 2003 Dodge Caravan minivan in her hometown at about 7:50 p.m. Tuesday when she struck the Roman Catholic priest on Woodbine Avenue near Between Lane, town police Chief Todd Sarris said in a statement.

The priest, William Costello, 79, was taken to Southampton Hospital, where he was declared dead.

Costello, a monsignor who retired in 1998, lived at the St. Anne Church rectory in Garden City for the past eight years, said a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

"To us, Msgr. Costello was truly the Cure of Ars, the patron saint of priests," Msgr. John Gilmartin, pastor at the St. Anne parish, said in a statement. "He was a friend, a companion and a great priest. I loved him and will miss him deeply."

Fisher, 42, also was taken to the hospital for treatment of facial cuts. She was kept overnight before appearing for arraignment before East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated, driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident.

The suspended license charge stems from a DWI arrest on April 1 in which Fisher's blood-alcohol level was 0.31, Clifford said.

She also was charged with endangering the welfare of a child in that incident because two children were in the vehicle when she was arrested, authorities said. She was charged with leaving the scene after fleeing to her nearby home on Woodbine Avenue, they said.

Following Fisher's arraignment, she was taken to the Suffolk County jail in Riverhead. Telephone messages left with her attorney were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Bishop William Murphy, head of the Rockville Centre diocese, called Costello "one of the most beloved priests in the diocese."

Costello, who was a priest for 54 years, served in numerous parishes across Long Island. He held several leadership roles in the diocese, including as a member of the Priest Senate, and was on the board of Catholic Charities and Little Flower Children's Services in Wading River.

"Whenever he returned to visit a parish where he had served, no matter how long ago that might have been, he was greeted with love and enthusiasm by one and all who knew him," Murphy said. "For me personally this is a great loss."

Update: Here is another article - This one includes a picture of the driver.

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