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Prosecutor: Driver was ‘dangerously drunk’ in fatal crash

Fatal crash victim Walter McDougal, 61, of Elmont

Fatal crash victim Walter McDougal, 61, of Elmont with his daughter Shannon McDougal, 15. Credit: Family photo

Jurors will continue deliberating Thursday in the manslaughter trial of a Queens man accused of driving drunk and fatally striking a pedestrian in an Elmont crosswalk.

Lawyers summed up their arguments Wednesday in Nassau County Court in Mineola, offering competing theories of who was to blame for the 2013 death of Walter McDougal, 61, a Vietnam War veteran.

Prosecutor Michael Bushwack said motorist Brian Dudley, 44, of Laurelton, Queens, was speeding and “dangerously drunk” when he hit and killed McDougal — a collision a nearby surveillance camera caught on video.

Dudley’s attorney, Christopher Devane, countered that McDougal had been crossing against the traffic light. He said that while Dudley admitted to drinking, his behavior showed he was sober at the time of the crash.

Relatives of McDougal who attended the trial described him as a widower with a teenage daughter, a former chemical company foreman, and a decorated Army veteran who was briefly a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

McDougal grew up in Garden City and was an easygoing person devoted to his only child Shannon, according to his sister, Nancy Bella, 59, of Floral Park.

Authorities said McDougal was walking to his Elmont home with groceries, newspapers and lottery tickets when Dudley’s sport utility vehicle hit him about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2013, on Elmont Road near Cerenzia Boulevard.

Dudley’s blood-alcohol level about four hours after the crash was measured at 0.16 percent — double the legal limit, prosecutors said.

Devane pointed to testimony that someone with a level of between 0.10 percent and 0.20 percent would have a reduced reaction time and tunnel vision.

The Mineola defense attorney then argued that McDougal hit the side of Dudley’s 2006 Toyota Highlander, and it wasn’t a head-on collision, because Dudley reacted in the two seconds he had before impact.

“Either my client has an exceptionally high tolerance [to alcohol] or there’s a problem with that test,” Devane said of the BAC result.

But Bushwack said Dudley was drunk and didn’t have the judgment to swerve or tap his brakes to prevent the crash. He said the video disproves Dudley’s claim that McDougal darted into traffic.

Bushwack said Dudley wasn’t absolved of criminal responsibility for McDougal’s death just because McDougal “walked against the red light.”

“The time to hold him responsible is now . . . .He rolled the dice and Walter lost,” he said.

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