Trial begins in fatal Copiague street race
A Lindenhurst motorist was reckless and caused the death of his pregnant girlfriend, two of their friends in the backseat, and an elderly woman in another car in a crash on Montauk Highway in Copiague in 2009, a prosecutor charged Wednesday.
Damian Dudkiewicz, 28, revved his engine and wove in and out of traffic as he and the driver of a tow truck leapfrogged and jockeyed for position along the roadway just before the accident, prosecutor Patricia Brosco told a jury in her opening statement in a Riverhead court.
However, defense attorney William Keahon, of Hauppauge, told the jury of eight women and four men that video from a store just 300 feet from the crash scene would show that Dudkiewicz's 2009 Mitsubishi GTS proceeded normally before the crash with a minivan about 4:30 p.m. on July 26, 2009.
Dudkiewicz faces between 5 and 15 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge -- manslaughter in the second degree.
The driver of the tow truck, Michael Fredricks, 23, of Babylon, is awaiting trial on similar charges. Both defendants are free on $250,000 bond and will be tried separately.
"They were immature. They were selfish. They were deadly drivers," Brosco told the jury.
The trial, before Justice Mark D. Cohen in State Supreme Court, was expected last four to five weeks.
Grzegorz Osko, 29, an electrical engineer from Lindenhurst, and his wife, Kamila, 26, were in the backseat of Dudkiewicz's car and suffered fatal injuries.
The couple had just gotten back from a visit to Poland and spent the day at Lake Ronkonkoma with Dudkiewicz, a native of Poland, and his pregnant girlfriend, Magda Siwik, 30, of Lindenhurst, who was killed.
The driver of the minivan, Roseanna Attaguile, 50, of Lindenhurst, was badly injured. Her mother, Theresa Zuardo, 67, of Brooklyn, who was in a backseat, was killed, and her father, Giuseppe Zuardo, was badly injured.
No drugs or alcohol were involved, police said at the time. Keahon repeated that point to the jury.
Later in the day, the prosecution played a four-minute call to 911 the day of the crash, and summoned a Suffolk County crime scene officer to the stand to introduce a police video and photographs of the scene.
The police video shows tire marks on an eastbound curb on Montauk Highway at Miramar Boulevard where Dudkiewicz says he swerved to avoid a car crossing against traffic.
The video showed the smashed-in front of the minivan, still sitting in the westbound lanes hours after the crash, and Dudkiewicz's blue sedan in the parking lot where it stopped after the van hit the passenger side of his car, flattening the side where Siwik was seated, while leaving his driver's side intact.
Criminal charges were not brought in the case at the time because Dudkiewicz misled detectives about his behavior, Brosco told the jury.
The indictment was returned about five months later.