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Jun 1, 2010 4:16 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Father of woman killed in motorcycle crash is hoping for manslaughter charge

Jun 1, 2010 4:16 PM

Daniel Parris, the father of Lauren Marie Parris, the teenager who was killed when her fiance lost control of his motorcycle while trying to evade an East Hampton Town Police officer on May 24, got a text message from his daughter the day she died.

It read: “Dad! Dad! Dad!,” he said, which was the way she used to call him for attention when she was a little girl. “I have to talk to you! It’s very important!”

So he called her. She had just found out she was pregnant and she was worried. She wanted to make sure her family would be there to support her, Mr. Parris said.

“I said, ‘Okay, so what’s wrong?,’” he said he told her. “We’re going to get through it and we’ll support you.”

He wasn’t surprised by his daughter’s reaction. He said she worried about everything—including the motorcycle she told her father her fiance, Matthew Byank, drove too fast.

At 10:05 that night, Mr. Parris got a phone call from his daughter’s friend.

“She said Lauren and Matt were in an accident, she was thrown and she’s not responding,” Mr. Parris said on Monday. Ms. Parris was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital just 30 minutes later.

Ms. Parris, 19, of Mastic Beach, had been a passenger on Mr. Byank’s motorcycle that night when he fled west on Route 27 after police attempted to pull him over for speeding in Montauk. According to police, Mr. Byank, also 19, lost control of his bike near Dolphin Drive in Amagansett and hit a utility pole.

A week after the accident, Mr. Parris said what is on his mind constantly is what happened the following day when Mr. Byank pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of unlawfully fleeing a police officer.

“The fact that he is pleading not guilty to this crime is killing me,” he said, adding that he thought the charge was not serious enough. “I’m hoping for manslaughter.”

Tad Scharfenberg, Mr. Byank’s lawyer, said the case would be presented to a grand jury on Friday, and there was a chance that his client would be indicted on a vehicular manslaughter charge.

Ms. Parris and Mr. Byank met in high school and began dating when they were 15, Mr. Parris said. He said their relationship was always full of ups and downs but he thought they stayed together because of their history and because they had similar personalities. Mr. Parris said he always thought Mr. Byank was “a little too carefree” to be his daughter’s boyfriend, but he was still happy for her when she told her parents they were engaged about three months ago. Mr. Byank even bought her a ring, Mr. Parris said.

“I thought it was great for her, these were kids that had known each other forever,” he said. They moved into a house in Manorville together at about the same time they got engaged, he said.

Mr. Parris described his daughter as a full-hearted, full-spirited person who would go out of her way for anyone. She was fiercely loyal, he said, which is why she put up with Mr. Byank’s motorcycle, although his speeding scared her. Mr. Parris said he had heard his daughter’s fiance bragging about driving 180 miles per hour on William Floyd Parkway, and that his daughter even complained that she had once been clipped on the leg by the side mirror of a passing car.

Mr. Parris said he has tried to be compassionate toward Mr. Byank and his family, but that hearing that he pleaded not guilty at his arraignment changed his view.

“He had an opportunity to pay his dues and now he is just trying to get out of it,” he said.

Mr. Parris said Mr. Byank was negligent and selfish. He said the fact that he was even speeding to begin with showed that Mr. Byank did not have his daughter’s best interest in mind.

“That in itself means he put them in a situation that was worse than it had to be,” he said. “He was running around with a suspended license. He knew this was going to be jail for him, and he had only his best interest in mind. I can’t imagine that he was thinking about her at all.”

At Mr. Byank’s arraignment, Mr. Scharfenberg told East Hampton Town Justice Lisa R. Rana his client was devastated, and that Ms. Parris’s death was as much a tragedy for him as it was for anybody else. Mr. Scharfenberg said on Tuesday that Mr. Byank is still heartbroken and that “his heart goes out to her family.”

Ms. Parris graduated from William Floyd High School in 2009 and was in her first semester at Suffolk County Community College. Mr. Parris said his daughter was very close to her mother, Patricia, and her 17-year-old sister, Danielle. He said that before she moved in with Mr. Byank, the two sisters used to talk to each other through the wall between their adjacent rooms.

Mr. Parris said as many as 1,000 people came to his daughter’s wake on Thursday night, including elementary school teachers and the owner of a local tattoo parlor who had known Ms. Parris for less than a year while she got work done on a tattoo.

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dear parris family:

i am so sorry for your tragic loss.
By concerned east ender (49), Sag Harbor on Jun 3, 10 5:36 PM
Not even knowing this young lady, I am so upset. What a terrible waste, and what a devastating loss to her parents. My condolences.
By EQme (112), East Quogue on Jun 3, 10 9:38 PM
I cannot even imagine the pain the Parris family is experiencing. Mr. Parris you should do what you know is right and honor the memory of your beautiful daughter. Only you know how she felt and what she would want you to do. Maybe your fight will create awareness and another young life will be saved. Maybe another young woman will refuse to get on a motorcycle or in a car with a wreckless driver after hearing your story. I wish you luck and strength in your long, painful healing process. ...more
By Mrs.Sea (268), Sag Harbor on Jun 4, 10 9:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
i knew matt & his girlfriend, they were good friends and daniel will be missed, my condolences

By hootie4tootie (1), brentwood on Jun 4, 10 9:27 AM
Daniel will be missed?
By DParris (12), Mastic Beach on Jun 4, 10 1:44 PM
I feel sorry for both familys. one lost their daugther the other the son made a big mistake.He like to ride fast, if thats what he like to do thats his risk, but when you put a passenger on the back its up to you as a rider to keep them safe. he should have rode slower or keep her off the bike. you dont ride with a scared person on the back.If he did not know that he knows it now. this is sad
By banjack (45), port jeff on Jun 4, 10 1:54 PM
The more I learn about this story the more sick I feel. Why does anyone thing that trying to "out run" the cops is a good idea? You'll never get away and be free.. and now to learn that not only was a poor innocent girl killed, but she was also pregnant. So tragic. And sending Matthew away won't bring back Lauren. So sad. So so sad.
By Rich Morey (378), Brooklyn on Jun 5, 10 11:09 PM
Our heartfelt prayers for you and your family.
By elliot (254), sag harbor on Jun 6, 10 9:29 PM
Daniel Parris: Not to beat a dead horse, but Matthew Byank made Bail. It's true today Byank is now free and sleeping soundly in the womb of his parents home. Killer of Daughter Lauren Parris. Once again he's bedazzled his friend Alex Steele(female) to foot the bill for his freedom. She was once Lauren's best friend. As my Daughter's ashes sit in a containment in our curio cabinet, he's eating and sleeping with ease. Byank and Steele have a facebook
By DParris (12), Mastic Beach on Jun 18, 10 12:37 PM
Cast your Vote now!

http://www.telloneveryone.com/SMF_Forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=gvi2lr9dhm46k8j8bm10crpql4&topic=6.msg7%3Btopicseen#msg7Motorcyclist released on $150,000 bail
Motorcyclist released on $150,000 bail
By DParris (12), Mastic Beach on Jun 24, 10 5:08 PM