Probation for driver in crash that killed SCCC student

Debra Pendzick, 39, pleaded guilty in January to Debra Pendzick, 39, pleaded guilty in January to criminally negligent homicide and driving while impaired by drugs. A car driven by Imran Rehman, 20, a Suffolk County Community College student from Centereach, pulled out in front of hers on May 29, 2012, on Route 25 in Centereach. Photo Credit: 2012

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A Center Moriches woman was sentenced Friday to probation for killing a college student while driving impaired by prescription drugs.

State Supreme Court Justice William Condon and attorneys on both sides agreed the sentence was warranted in a case affected by unusual factors.

Debra Pendzick, 39, pleaded guilty in January to criminally negligent homicide and driving while impaired by drugs. A car driven by Imran Rehman, 20, a Suffolk County Community College student from Centereach, pulled out in front of hers on May 29, 2012, on Route 25 in Centereach.

"This is an atypical case with an atypical solution," Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Carl Borelli said.

Two things made the case unusual.

One was that Rehman, an inexperienced driver, pulled out of Smith Lane without stopping, apparently because the stop sign at the intersection was missing.

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A jury could have concluded there was no way for Pendzick to avoid a collision, Borelli said.

Also, Condon suppressed Pendzick's toxicology results, ruling last year that police violated her right to an attorney by taking a blood sample without letting her call her lawyer. That left prosecutors with little evidence against her.

Her attorney, Steven Politi of Central Islip, said she had no history of driving while impaired until this crash happened while she was taking Xanax and painkillers.

"Certainly, judge, this is a tragedy," Politi said. "It was a convergence of unfortunate events."

Pendzick told Condon she wishes she had been killed instead of Rehman.

"I pray continuously for the family all the time," she said.

Borelli said the Rehman family did not want to come to court but is fully aware of why the case ended this way.

"The grace and dignity they have showed, I don't think I could show myself," he said. "This is a tough situation for them."

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Condon told Pendzick the best way to honor Rehman and his family would be to do well during her 5 years on probation.

He said he understood the accident may have been unavoidable and that she was taking appropriate medication. "But some people on legal, prescribed drugs should not be behind the wheel," Condon said as Pendzick nodded. "You have to acknowledge that."

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