Prison for Brian Andreski in fatal boat crash
The wife of a man killed last year by a drunken boater in a Great South Bay collision confronted the defendant in court Friday, telling him, "I wish it could be you who was dead."
With a wavering voice, Michele Weil addressed Brian Andreski in a full Suffolk County courtroom shortly before he was sent to prison for 4 to 12 years.
Tears flowed when Weil spoke about how desperately her two children miss their father, Christopher Mannino.
"The culpability lies with you, Brian," Weil said. "You took my life away . . . I wish it could be you who was dead, not Chris. I pray you have children some day and see what you took."
Mannino, 39, of West Islip, was killed June 23 while standing on the back deck of a fishing boat beneath the Robert Moses Causeway. He took a rare day off from his construction job to compete in a shark-fishing tournament.
Andreski, 27, of Dix Hills, at the controls of a speedboat, plowed into the side of the fishing vessel, striking Mannino in the face and chest. More than half of the bones in his body were broken, authorities said later.
Andreski pleaded guilty in December to aggravated vehicular homicide and second-degree manslaughter -- the first time vehicular laws had been used in a boating case in New York State.
At the time of his plea, Andreski said he had spent the night drinking beer and "rocket fuel" -- a drink made with 151-proof rum -- on Fire Island.
Andreski, who had no criminal record, could have faced a maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. As part of the plea deal with Suffolk County Court James Hudson, prosecutors recommended a sentence of 5 to 15 years.
As he imposed the sentence, Hudson told Andreski his good background "makes the crimes you committed inexplicable . . . Your sentence will have an end. There is no such comfort for Mr. Mannino's family."
Weil and other family members made that clear.
"Brian Andreski has impacted my life in a way that I'll never recover from," Weil said. "I stand before you dead, but alive."
Weil sobbed in the arms of her mother-in-law as Mannino's younger sister, Nicole Altmann, spoke of how devoted he was to his family, particularly his children, Hailee, 7, and Christopher Jr., 12.
"Brian Andreski not only killed my brother; he killed the spirits of everyone who knew and loved my brother," she said.
"I just want safety on the waterways," he said.
Anthony Faraone, Mannino's younger brother, urged Andreski to "get your mind right, man . . . You're going to have to live with this the rest of your life."
Maninno's mother, Francine Faraone, said her eldest child "was the pillar of our family. I had him when I was 18 years old. I grew up with Chris."
Defense attorney William Keahon told Hudson that his client was an honest and compassionate man.
At that point, Weil spoke up from the audience.
"How dare you stand there so friggin' unremorseful," Weil said, as court officers approached her. "I don't understand."
Hudson warned her that she could be ejected from the courtroom, but Keahon asked that she be allowed to stay.
"None of us can imagine the loss and what it does to them, minute by minute, every day," Keahon said later.
Then Andreski turned to face the victims.
"I want to apologize to the whole Mannino family," he said. "I hope one day you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."
Breaking into sobs, he said, "I wish I could take it back."
"Thank you, Brian," one member of Mannino's family said.
Outside court, Weil said it was the first sign of remorse she'd seen from Andreski.
"You're crying for yourself," she said of the defendant. "Not that you damaged a family."