On July 26, 2009, Giuseppe Zuardo, then 77 and still working in construction, was visiting his daughter in Lindenhurst with his wife and heading to the supermarket for some groceries. His daughter drove her minivan, he said in Italian through an interpreter. He sat beside her and his wife, Teresa, was behind him.
"I was just talking to my wife and then -- boom -- there was a big noise, and I don't remember anything else," Zuardo said during questioning by Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Melissa Turk. in state Supreme Court in Riverhead.
Zuardo testified before Justice Mark Cohen against Damian Dudkiewicz, 28. He's charged with four counts of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of second-degree assault. Prosecutors say he and Michael Fredericks, 23, of Babylon were racing east on Montauk Highway when a car driven by Tara Weinberg turned in front of Dudkiewicz. He lost control of his car and crashed into the minivan driven by Zuardo's daughter, Rosanna Attaguile.
Fredericks is awaiting trial.
Killed were Teresa Zuardo, 69; and three passengers in Dudkiewicz's car -- Grzegorz Osko, 29; his wife, Kamila Boriczka Osko, 26; and Magda Siwik, 30, all of Lindenhurst. Attaguile, 50, of Lindenhurst, was badly injured.
Dudkiewicz's attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, said the crash happened just as prosecutors say -- except there was no race beforehand and his client was not driving at a high speed. Several first responders to the scene have testified there was no sign of alcohol or drugs.
Giuseppe Zuardo testified that the crash broke 10 of his ribs and injured his knee, leaving him with frequent trouble breathing and barely able to walk. He struggled both approaching and leaving the witness stand.
As family members wept in the courtroom, he testified he found out his wife had died about a week after the crash.
Afterward, a granddaughter, Teresa Charland of Scituate, R.I., said the crash was devastating.
"My grandfather was a vibrant man before the accident," she said. "He's forever changed. He lost his wife of 50 years."
A niece, Karina Tulipano of Englewood, N.J., who was raised by the Zuardos, said it was unfair.
"Given his age, he shouldn't have to go through this," she said. "He should be enjoying his life, with his wife."