A Lindenhurst carpenter pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges, admitting he was driving drunk last year when he caused a crash near Huntington Station that killed a woman and injured three others.
Ryan Gurecki, 35, who a Suffolk prosecutor said had a blood-alcohol level of .13, above the legal limit of .08, accepted responsibility for the decisions he made on June 26, 2016, that led to the death of Karen Holden, 56, a nurse from Huntington Station.
“You were intoxicated, is that it?” state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho asked Gurecki during the brief court proceeding in First District Court in Central Islip.
“Yes,” Gurecki replied as his family and the Holden family listened.
Gurecki — who authorities said confessed that he drank five beers at his job site earlier in the day — also pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of driving while intoxicated, a felony, and three counts of third-degree assault for causing injuries to Holden’s husband, William Holden, the couple’s adult son, and a driver in another car.
In exchange for his guilty plea, the judge promised to sentence Gurecki to 6 to 18 years in prison. Had he been convicted at trial, Gurecki would have faced a maximum sentence of 9 1⁄3 to 25 years in prison.
Sentencing is set for May 5.
On the night of the crash, the Holdens were driving to Virginia to visit the couple’s eldest son, Ken Holden, and their daughter-in-law.
William Holden was driving the family’s 2016 Ford Escape. Police said their car, westbound on Jericho Turnpike, stopped at a red light and waited to turn left onto route 110.
About 9:25 p.m., Gurecki, driving a 2010 Ford Explorer, slammed into the Holden family car, then sideswiped a 2014 Honda Odyssey, which also stopped at the red light waiting to make a left turn onto Route 110, authorities said.
Assistant District Attorney Trish Brosco on Tuesday said Gurecki was driving 57 mph on a road where the speed limit was 40 mph. Police found 13 empty beer bottles in his sport utility vehicle.
Gurecki, convicted of DWI in 2006, has a “horrific” driving record that includes 13 license suspensions and five accidents, Brosco said. In one accident, she said, Gurecki flipped his vehicle and injured his passenger.
No matter how many years Gurecki remains behind bars, William Holden said it’s not going to change the fact that his wife is gone and his family has to learn to live without her.
“All my hatred and my anger is only wasted. We just need to accept what the court is going to do and try to move on with our lives,” William Holden said Tuesday. “But the victims of DWI — their lives are never going to be the same and people don’t understand that.”
Gurecki’s attorney, Daniel Sullivan of Central Islip, said that by pleading guilty, his client is accepting blame for his actions.
“He hopes by taking some criminal responsibility for this, there’d be some peace — whatever peace can be offered to the family,” Sullivan said.