A drunken driver was sentenced Wednesday to up to 15 years in prison for killing a great-grandmother who was on her way to church in Central Islip a year ago.
The victim's family tearfully told a Suffolk judge that the death of 84-year-old Mary Rogalle caused her husband to die from "a broken heart" months later.
"She was a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, but she was my best friend," said Rogalle's youngest child, Maria. "She was the person I spent every holiday with, every birthday with."STORYOfficials: Man pleads not guilty in fatal crashDataLI crime stats
The afternoon of May 4, 2014, a Chevy Camaro driven by Charles Koukalenios, 30, of East Islip, veered into oncoming southbound traffic on Carleton Avenue and crashed into Rogalle's Buick Century, prosecutors said.
Koukalenios' blood-alcohol level was 0.13 percent four hours after the crash, well above the legal limit of 0.08 percent, authorities said.
Another of Rogalle's daughters, Elizabeth Ferrier, urged state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho in Central Islip to impose the maximum sentence "so that this pain and this ache does not happen to another family."
Camacho sentenced Koukalenios to 5 to 15 years for aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter and other charges.
Koukalenios had pleaded guilty in March.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 6 to 18 years. At the time of the crash, Koukalenios was on his way to a nephew's baseball game, said his attorney, Ira Weissman of Central Islip.
Weissman told the judge his client, a mechanic, was a "good person" who struggled with alcoholism.
In 2002, Koukalenios' older brother was fatally shot in East Islip. Weissman said his client's alcohol abuse stems from that tragedy.
Camacho said he believed the brother's death was a "major factor" in his downward spiral but said he refused to accept it as an excuse for the pain he caused Rogalle's family.
"There is nothing I can do or say to take back what happened," Koukalenios said, sobbing and apologizing to Rogalle's family. "It's happened to me, and I feel terrible."
Known as "Mary Joy," Rogalle was a eucharistic minister involved in charity work. In October, her husband, Korean War veteran Peter Rogalle, 83, died.
Thursday would have been the couple's 60th anniversary.