The driver of a blue Mitsubishi was going at least 64 mph when his car began to spin and crashed into a minivan on Montauk Highway in Copiague, killing four people, a crash reconstruction expert testified Monday.
Robert Genna, director of the Suffolk Crime Laboratory, testified at the trial of Damian Dudkiewicz, 28, of Lindenhurst, the blue car's driver on July 26, 2009. He is on trial before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen, charged with four counts of second-degree manslaughter.
Prosecutors said Dudkiewicz lost control during an impromptu street race with Michael Fredericks, 23, of Babylon, who will be tried later. Dudkiewicz swerved and hit a curb after another car turned in front of him.
Killed in the crash were a passenger in the minivan he hit, Teresa Zuardo, 69, of Brooklyn; and three passengers in his car -- Grzegorz Osko, 29; his wife, Kamila Boriczka Osko, 26; and Dudkiewicz's fiancee, Magda Siwik, 30, all of Lindenhurst.
Genna testified Monday that at speeds that high -- and likely higher before he hit the curb and went out of control -- there was little room to stop in time.
But during cross-examination by defense attorney Stephen Civardi of Freeport, Genna conceded he didn't seek certain data before coming to his conclusion. In particular, he said he didn't ask Mitsubishi about how to retrieve crash data from the car's event data recorder until last month, as the trial began, more than three years after the crash and after he wrote his 2009 report.
Civardi then reminded Genna that at the 2010 trial of Jennifer Jorgensen, charged with killing three people while driving impaired by drugs and alcohol, he testified wrongly that her car had no event data recorder.
"Isn't it fair to say you were flat-out wrong?" Civardi asked.
Genna conceded that was true. After a mistrial, Jorgensen was tried again earlier this year and was acquitted of most charges, but convicted in the death of her child, born prematurely as a result of the crash.
Civardi also suggested that Genna's calculations were off in this case because he underestimated the weight of Dudkiewicz's car and its occupants. Genna said he assigned average weights for the four occupants, instead of relying on actual weights from medical records and autopsy reports.
He said that if the weight of the car and its contents were higher, the speed he calculated would be slightly lower.