Andrea Rothbort lies in bed at night haunted by the images of April 22, 2017.
Her 77-year-old parents, Barbara and Melvyn Glickman, lying on Merrick Road in Massapequa after being struck by a bar owner who told police he drank 10 beers earlier that evening.
She sees her mother’s shoes and new handbag scattered on the road, next to a doggie bag of leftover strudel from a family reunion at a barbecue restaurant that had concluded only moments earlier.
On Monday, John Hartwig, 64, of East Massapequa, the driver of the 2015 white Ford Explorer that fatally struck the Glickmans, was sentenced to 3 1⁄2 to 10 1⁄2 years in an upstate prison. Hartwig pleaded guilty in January to vehicular manslaughter and two counts of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.
Members of the Glickman family said they believe Hartwig was getting off easy.
“Every minute of every day since their death has been filled with anguish, unrelenting sorrow and unimaginable grief,” Rothbort said. “My mind is constantly searching for answers to the unanswerable problem: Why?”
Hartwig expressed remorse to the victims and took responsibility for the crime.
“The immense loss sustained by the Glickmans could have been avoided if I made a different choice,” he said. “No words can erase or ease the pain that I have inflicted on everyone. But at the very least I can say I’m sorry.”
Nassau County Court Judge Robert Bogle said Hartwig, who pleaded guilty in 2000 to driving while ability impaired after rear-ending a vehicle in Wantagh, had failed to learn from his mistakes.
“It was your judgment call and it was a judgment of deadly consequences,” Bogle said. “The result of your misjudgement ended the lives of two productive, loved individuals.”
The Glickmans, who lived primarily in Melville, had returned from their winter home in Port St. Lucie, Florida, earlier in the day, and spent the evening at Smokin’ Al’s Famous BBQ Joint with family.
They discussed their grandchildren’s high school graduation and the health of a family pet, Rothbort said. Melvyn talked in Spanish with a busboy, telling dirty jokes and slipping him an extra tip, she recalled.
Hartwig, meanwhile, told authorities he spent the night downing 10 beers at the bar he owns, McQuade’s in Lynbrook.
Shortly after 8 p.m., Hartwig, on his way home, hit the Glickmans as they attempted to cross the south side of Merrick Road, just east of Park Boulevard.
Rothbort, of Old Bethpage, said her father, dying on the pavement, was concerned only about his wife, reportedly urging EMS workers to stop treating him and to focus only on Barbara.
Hartwig told detectives the couple were “running across the street” and “came out of nowhere” said Michael Bushwack, chief of the district attorney’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau.
Hartwig’s blood-alcohol level was 0.13, officials said. The legal limit is .08.
District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement that Hartwig “ought to have known better than to selfishly drive drunk. Drunk drivers do not see and react to people and everyday situations.”
Rothbort, standing next to her husband and son, spoke in court for more than 15 minutes about her parents, slowly sipping water as her voice cracked frequently with grief.
She is anguished by the idea that her parents have missed their grandchildren’s prom, graduations and a year of holidays. And countless more to come.
“The image of my poor parents lying on Merrick Road mangled and dying screams in my mind,” Rothbort said. “They did not have to die this way. At times I feel like I can’t breathe.”
The family plans to attend every parole hearing to fight for Hartwig to serve every minute of his sentence.
“I feel like I’ve been given a life sentence,” Rothbort said, “one which will never be reduced for good behavior.”