Relatives of a Huntington Station nurse killed by a drunken driver asked a judge to sentence him to the maximum term to discourage other motorists from driving while intoxicated.
Before state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho sentenced Ryan Gurecki, 35, of Lindenhurst, to 6 to 18 years in prison for aggravated vehicular homicide, relatives of Karen Holden urged the judge on Friday to make an example of the carpenter.
Gurecki — who had admitted drinking five Heinekens at his job site earlier the day of the crash — had a blood alcohol level of .13, according to a Suffolk prosecutor. The legal limit is .08. Police found 13 empty Heineken bottles in his SUV.
“This is your chance, your honor,” Holden’s husband, William Holden, told the judge in First District Court in Central Islip.
On the night of June 26, 2016, the Holdens and their younger son, were driving to Virginia to visit their older son and daughter-in-law. William Holden was driving the family’s 2016 Ford Escape. His wife, 56, was in the back seat, and their son Robert was in the front passenger seat. Their car, which was going west on Jericho Turnpike, was stopped at a red light while waiting to turn left onto Route 110.
About 9:25 p.m., authorities said Gurecki’s 2010 Ford Explorer slammed into the Holden family car at 57 mph, then sideswiped a 2014 Honda Odyssey, which had also stopped at the red light.
William and Robert Holden and the Honda’s driver were injured in the crash.
Gurecki had also pleaded guilty in March to one count of second-degree manslaughter, one count of driving while intoxicated, and three counts of third-degree assault. The sentences for these crimes will run concurrent to 6-to-18-year sentence.
Judge Camacho explained to the Holden family that the sentence he imposed for the most serious charge — which is less than the maximum sentence of 8 1⁄3 to 25 years — because Gurecki had pleaded guilty and gave up his rights to go to trial and to appeal, which could have dragged the Holdens back to court for many years.
Before Gurecki was taken away in handcuffs, he apologized to the Holden family, though William Holden had said he didn’t want to hear it. He stood up and turned his back to Gurecki as Gurecki read from a statement.
“I understand your hatred toward me and I don’t blame you,” he said.