A state park worker who ran a stop sign in Heckscher State Park told the widow of the man he killed that he took her words of understanding to heart.
Brian Cinquemani was sentenced Friday to 1 year of probation for reckless driving. He had initially been charged with criminally negligent homicide, but state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho ruled the facts of the case didn’t support that charge.
Cinquemani, 60, was driving a park van the afternoon of July 11, 2014, when he hit bicyclist Edward Hahne Jr. of East Islip. Cinquemani went to a nearby tollbooth to report the accident and then returned to the scene.
Lee Ann Hahne told Camacho that her husband, who taught music in junior high school, was a gifted educator.
“He touched so many lives,” she said. “There were 500 people at his funeral. I wonder how many more lives could have been touched if there had been more time.”
Although she said she had no issue with Cinquemani remaining free, his reaction after the accident bothered her.
“Where was Mr. Cinquemani’s humanity that day?” she said. “I don’t know how any human being could not have stopped and offered comfort.”
Cinquemani told Hahne he understood her point of view.
“You’ve given me a new perspective on life,” he said, his head bowed in the Central Islip courtroom. “I grieve for the family as if they are my own, and it’s the truth.”
He said the aftermath of the accident has wrecked his own life, too. He’s in financial trouble and no longer employed by the state, and his house is in foreclosure.
“Barely a day goes by when I don’t think of this loss,” he said, as Hahne teared up. “I’m ashamed. I’m ashamed for my responsibility in this.”
His attorney, Lani Houston of the Legal Aid Society, said that was true. “From day one, Brian was very sorry this happened,” she said.
Camacho told Hahne that she had given “one of the most compassionate, dignified statements I’ve heard. It reflects on you and your family, and on your husband.” He told her he appreciated her reaction to his ruling that the accident was not criminally negligent homicide.
The judge said he took into account that Cinquemani left to get help and immediately returned to the victim’s side, where he cooperated with police.
“That’s the reason he’s not going to jail today,” Camacho said.