ROAD-RAGE DRIVER AT WAKE TO SAY SORRY — (NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

BY Richard Weir , Owen Moritz

Wednesday, February 25, 2004, 12:00 AM

A Long Island high school wrestling champion charged in an alleged road-rage incident that left a teammate dead appeared at the victim’s wake last night, tearfully apologizing to the teen’s mom, friends said. Hours after his release from the hospital, Michael Moor, 17, was among hundreds who went to a Seaford funeral home to pay respects to Patrick Butler, 16, a fellow wrestling champ and the son of an NYPD sergeant. Moor, charged with driving under the influence of drugs in the fatal Monday incident, wanted to “express his love and sympathy to the family of Patrick Butler about his loss,” said his lawyer, Leonard Symons. Friends said Moor, his right arm in a sling, quietly apologized to Butler’s mom, Margaret Butler. Patrick Butler was in the backseat when a car driven by Moor went out of control and crashed early Monday after the duo helped Seaford High School capture a Nassau County wrestling championship. “He was a great teammate,” said Garrett Miranda, 15, one of several members of the wrestling team at the wake. “He’s a part of the team that nobody can bring back. He shined in his own way.

“Also attending were several uniformed cops from Manhattan’s 25th Precinct, where Butler’s father, Joseph, is a sergeant. Long Island police said the tragedy unfolded after Moor, Butler and three other members of the wrestling team pulled out of a diner parking lot early Monday. When a passing driver honked to alert Moor that his headlights were off, the angry teen raced after him on Sunrise Highway, cops said. Moor lost control of his car, which jumped a sidewalk and hit a utility pole, according to police. Butler, sitting in the back and wearing a seat belt, took the brunt of the crash, cops said. The other passengers were also injured, one critically. Yesterday, Symons disputed the police account, as well as the allegation that drugs may have contributed to the crash. “What we have here is a tragic accident. I don’t believe we have any criminality,” said Symons. He acknowledged that Moor, free on a desk-appearance ticket, took Ritalin and Zoloft, but said neither drug was a factor in the accident. Teammates said Moor, who had won a berth in the state championships this weekend, and Butler were especially close, training together in the summer. Sue Conlon, who lives across the street from the Butlers, said the dead teenager, the oldest of four children, came from a good family. “He was raised right,” Conlon said. “He was everything you’d want in a kid.