Sentencing was held for two drivers who pleaded guilty to separate deadly DWI crashes in Nassau. NewsdayTV’s Macy Egeland reports. Credit: Anthony Florio; Howard Schnapp; Newsday

A Syosset man who pleaded guilty to a drunken driving crash that killed a husband and wife last year in Laurel Hollow was sentenced to 7 to 21 years in prison during a tear-filled hearing on Monday in Mineola.

The courtroom of State Supreme Court Justice Howard Sturim in Nassau County was packed with weeping relatives of crash victims Ismenia and Odalis Urena, while more waited outside the courtroom for the sentence. The grieving relatives told defendant Sotirios Spanos that he destroyed their lives and robbed the world of a generous, vivacious couple when he hit the couple's vehicle head-on with his 2023 Acura MDX on Aug. 12.

Ismenia Urena’s sister, Crismairy Rodriguez, clutched a lock of dark hair and told Sturim that the collision was so horrific that the hair was the only part of her sister’s body that was not destroyed by the impact. “This is what we have left,” she said.

The couple’s 14-year-old daughter, meanwhile, sobbed uncontrollably as she read her victim impact statement.

    WHAT TO KNOW

  • A Syosset man who pleaded guilty to a drunken driving crash that killed a husband and wife last year in Laurel Hollow was sentenced to 7 to 21 years in prison.
  • The Mineola courtroom was packed with weeping relatives of crash victims Ismenia and Odalis Urena.
  • Relatives told defendant Sotirios Spanos that he robbed the world of a generous, vivacious couple when he hit the couple's vehicle.

“You have made my life miserable,” Kaitlyn Urena said. “You are a grown man and you made the decision to get behind the wheel intoxicated. You deserve the maximum time — and more.”

Spanos, 33, pleaded guilty on April 23 to aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, and driving while intoxicated.

Odalis’ parents, Pedro Ureña and Juana Cruz, stand with Ismenia’s...

Odalis’ parents, Pedro Ureña and Juana Cruz, stand with Ismenia’s parents, Francisco Rodriguez and Rosanna Rodriguez, after Sotirios Spanos was sentenced on Monday in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Spanos looked intently at the Urenas' relatives but showed little emotion as they spoke about the devastation the fatal collision has caused their family. When it was his turn to address the court, he expressed deep remorse for the grief and sorrow he has caused them — and his own family.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions,” Spanos said. “I have nothing to say in my defense … There are no words in the English language to express how sorry I am.”

Spanos’ attorney, Steven Epstein, told Sturim that Spanos struggled with addiction and had been through inpatient and outpatient treatment for depression and alcoholism. He had no prior criminal record, Epstein said. More than a dozen of Spanos’ relatives and supporters also attended the hearing.

Sturim expressed sympathy for Spanos’ substance-abuse struggles but said getting behind the wheel while drunk was a choice, not an addiction.

“The ripple of pain you have caused has gone far beyond today,” Sturim said. “You have no one to blame but yourself.

Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly said Spanos’ blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit more than three hours after the collision. He was driving 100 mph 2.5 seconds before the crash, and the Acura was traveling at nearly 85 mph at impact.

The Urenas, also of Syosset, were returning home after having dinner in Huntington when the fatal crash occurred at 12:31 a.m. The couple also is survived by their 8-year-old daughter Adelyn, who also attended Monday’s sentencing.

Donnelly said Spanos had several drinks at a restaurant in Islip during a date that evening, and he continued drinking with his companion at a bar across the street. Spanos and his date got into an argument, and the defendant speeded off despite being impaired.

“He took off on a wild ride that would lead him directly into the path of Ismenia and Odalis,” Donnelly, flanked by the victims’ relatives, said at a news conference after Spanos was sentenced. “One hundred miles an hour along Northern Boulevard, fueled by anger and alcohol on a winding, curving road.”

Spanos’ Acura crossed into oncoming traffic and struck the front passenger side of the victims’ vehicle head-on, and then drove over the vehicle. Ismenia Urena, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene. Odalis Urena, also 37, was taken to Huntington Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Both victims were the children of Dominican immigrants who had built successful careers and lives on Long Island. Odalis Urena was the owner of a contracting company while Ismenia Urena was a life coach dedicated to helping others. The couple donated homes to needy people in Guatemala, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, their relatives said.

“All I can say is Ismenia and Odalis were two individuals that knew no strangers,” Crismairy Rodriguez said. “They would help anyone who needed a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.” 

NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Unearthing a suspect: The Gilgo Beach killings NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Unearthing a suspect: The Gilgo Beach killings NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Latest videos

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.