For the first time since she saw her husband and two young children burn to death by the side of the Southern State Parkway, a Queens woman Tuesday faced the man convicted of causing the crash and fleeing the scene.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Sharpe,” Lucnie Bouaz-Ostane said in court, addressing Oniel Sharpe Jr. “I really wanted to see you. I could have been a sister to you. I could have been a cousin. I want you to know that you have destroyed a sister’s life, a cousin’s life.”
Moments later in Central Islip, an emotional state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho sentenced Sharpe, 26, a Springfield Gardens maintenance worker, to the maximum of 12 to 36 years in prison.
Sharpe was convicted in February of aggravated vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, tampering with physical evidence and other charges. He drove a BMW X5 at high speed into the back of the Ostane family’s Toyota RAV4 in North Bay Shore in the early hours of July 12, 2015.
Sharpe was drunk and racing after another car on the parkway when he slammed into the Ostane car just before Exit 41S, killing Ancio Ostane, 37, and his children, Andy, 8, and Sephora, 4, all of St. Albans.
While the car burned and Bouaz-Ostane tried desperately to save her family, Sharpe is visible on cellphone video heaving a bottle of tequila from his car into the woods. Then he left in a friend’s car and avoided arrest until the alcohol in his bloodstream had dissipated somewhat.
At the sentencing Tuesday, Bouaz-Ostane spoke softly from the jury box with her siblings and mother next to her. She finished her brief remarks by thanking her mother, who embraced her.
Before sentencing Sharpe, Camacho offered his condolences to Bouaz-Ostane.
“Your dignity and courage is an inspiration,” the judge said.
Camacho told Sharpe that his actions immediately after the crash were even more disturbing than causing the wreck.
“You had a responsibility to stay there and face the consequences of your actions,” the judge said. “You watched them die and you turned and you ran.”
He pointed to Bouaz-Ostane and told Sharpe, “Her family is dead. Mrs. Ostane is here, and I don’t know how she’s hanging on, other than through courage and will.”
Camacho said the punishment had to reflect the severity of the crime and the loss of three lives.
Defense attorney Jonathan Manley of Hauppauge told the judge that he had advised his client not to speak at sentencing, “not as a sign of disrespect, but for legal reasons.”
“He is also a man of God,” Manley said. “He goes to church every day. He prays for the Ostane family. He will not ask for forgiveness because he does not forgive himself for his actions that night.”
Manley said his client has spoken to “a thousand people” people since he’s been in Suffolk County jail about the consequences of driving drunk and recklessly and that he will continue to do so.
Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco told Sharpe he deserved no leniency.
“You simply refuse to accept responsibility for your shameful actions,” Brosco said. “Nothing sums that up better than your reaction while the car was on fire. Instead of helping, you went through your car to get rid of evidence of your drinking.”
By the time Sharpe turned himself into State Police almost four hours later, his blood-alcohol level had dropped to 0.05 percent, but a forensic toxicologist testified that it would have been 0.12 percent at the time of the crash, well over the legal threshold of 0.08.
Afterward, District Attorney Thomas Spota said Camacho “did the right thing” with the maximum sentence and said Bouaz-Ostane will never be the same.
“She’s devastated,” Spota said. “She’ll be devastated the rest of her life.”