Driver charged in fatal crash testifies

Defendant Damian Dudkiewicz leaves the courtroom of Judge

Defendant Damian Dudkiewicz leaves the courtroom of Judge Mark Cohen. (Sept. 28, 2012) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

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The Lindenhurst man being tried on charges that he killed four people in a street race testified Thursday that he wasn't going that fast before the crash and that the signature at the end of his written statement to police isn't his.

In accented English, Polish native Damian Dudkiewicz, 28, said, "I was going with the flow of traffic," which he estimated to be 45 or 50 mph, while he headed east on Montauk Highway in Copiague on July 26, 2009. During questioning by his attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, he said a westbound car turned left in front of him and stopped.

"I hit my wheel to the right, and I push the pedal to speed up," he said, testifying in a monotone before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. Dudkiewicz said he hit the curb and started to slide, and the next thing he remembered he was on the ground.

According to Suffolk prosecutors, Dudkiewicz was engaged in an impromptu, high-speed race with Michael Fredericks of Babylon, who will be tried later. The prosecutors say Dudkiewicz was going about 80 mph when the car turned in front of him. After hitting the curb, his car spun and crashed into a minivan coming the other way.

Killed in the crash were a passenger in the minivan, Teresa Zuardo, 69, of Brooklyn; and the passengers in Dudkiewicz's car -- Grzegorz Osko, 29; his wife, Kamila Boriczka Osko, 26; and Dudkiewicz's pregnant fiancee, Magda Siwik, 30, all of Lindenhurst.

Earlier in the trial, retired Det. Philip Daly said that while being treated at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, Dudkiewicz eventually admitted going as fast as 70 mph while weaving in and out of traffic with Fredericks' pickup truck.

Thursday, Dudkiewicz said it didn't happen that way.

"Det. Daly raised his voice," he said. "He said, 'You were in car racing. Tell me you were in car racing.' He said, 'I've got witnesses, you were going 80 mph.' I said, 'No, I was not in any car racing.' "

Later on the evening of the crash, after trauma doctor Way Lee told him his fiancee and friends were dead, Dudkiewicz said Daly returned with a piece of paper. With some difficulty -- he had several broken ribs and a collapsed lung -- he signed it.

But the statement Daly said he signed is two pages long, and the more incriminating part is on the second page. Dudkiewicz said he never saw that page.

When Daly testified, he said Dudkiewicz signed both pages while holding it above his head while lying on his back.

During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Turk, Lee said it would have been possible for Dudkiewicz to raise his hands above his head, "but it would hurt, a lot."

Earlier, during questioning by Keahon, Lee noted that the forms patients are given when admitted to the hospital all are marked "unable to sign." But a day later, when presented with a form authorizing insertion of a chest tube, Dudkiewicz signed that, Lee said under cross-examination.

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