A family grieved for another loved one lost to drunken driving as a judge Tuesday sentenced a Locust Valley man to prison for causing the 2019 death of a retired NYPD detective years after the victim’s son perished in a wreck.
Denis Motherway, 85, of Bayville, was heading to a hospital in an ambulette when motorist Alvaro Gutierrez-Garcia’s sedan struck the emergency vehicle and made it overturn, according to authorities.
The collision happened at about 11:45 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2019, in Glen Cove as the ambulette had its lights and siren activated, but also was going through a red light.
During Tuesday’s virtual proceeding, State Supreme Court Justice Robert McDonald gave Gutierrez-Garcia a penalty that will add up to a sentence of 6 to 12 years in prison.
The 29-year-old pleaded guilty in November to aggravated vehicular homicide, aggravated DWI and a felony assault charge.
Gutierrez-Garcia admitted then that his blood alcohol content measured 0.22% after the crash, a level that case prosecutor Lisa Corso pointed out was almost three times higher than the legal threshold for intoxication.
Motherway died about a decade after his son, Timothy Motherway, 35, lost his life in a 2009 East Rockaway crash because of a drunken driver who then went to prison for manslaughter.
Kathryn Daly, a daughter of the victim, spoke of her father during Tuesday's sentencing as a "stubborn Irishman with traditional values" who continued his life of service by volunteering in the community after serving in the Air Force and the NYPD. She also spoke of the toll that the death of her brother took on him.
"When his fourth child, Timothy, was killed by a drunken driver in 2009, I watched this big strong man break. I don’t believe he ever fully recovered. Little did we know at the time, my father would suffer the same fate," she said.
In the 2019 crash, authorities said Gutierrez-Garcia was speeding east on Forest Avenue when his 1997 Cadillac hit the ambulette, which had been going south on Walnut Road.
Police said previously that Motherway was having breathing trouble before the crash. He later was pronounced dead at Glen Cove Hospital, where the private ambulette was going before the collision.
Motherway suffered blunt force trauma and a lacerated liver in the wreck, causing his death, Corso said Tuesday. An emergency medical technician also suffered a serious hand injury in the wreck, according to prosecutors.
"Drunk drivers kill innocent people," Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement Tuesday, adding that her "heart goes out" to Motherway’s relatives after their loss of two family members in two different DWI crashes.
"This office will continue to hold these drivers criminally responsible to bring an end to drunken driving and the suffering it causes," the district attorney also said.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Groder told the judge Tuesday that Gutierrez-Garcia, who chose not to speak, had never minimized the significance of his conduct and always intended to accept responsibility.
Another daughter of the victim, Kelly Motherway-Jakits, read a statement during Tuesday's proceeding that her mother Peggy Motherway — who died earlier this month — wrote ahead of the sentencing.
Motherway’s wife described the life of her husband, who had been a father of five and grandfather of nine, as one dedicated to helping others. She also addressed Gutierrez-Garcia in her statement.
"When you made the conscious decision to get drunk and then drive, that to me was the equivalent of murder. My husband did not have to die that night. He should not have died that night," she wrote.