A woman who drove drunk and killed a bicyclist in Carle Place a week before his college graduation is heading to prison after a tearful apology to the victim’s family in court Wednesday.
“I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to come face to face with the Velasquez family and apologize directly. And I know that my actions have caused all of you great pain, and I’m truly sorry for that,” Melissa McKiski, 23, told relatives of the victim, Charles Velasquez, 22, of Roslyn.
Acting Supreme Court Justice William O’Brien in Mineola sentenced McKiski to 2 to 6 years in prison after the Hicksville native and resident of Venice, Florida, also told her own family she knew she had let them down.
“I promise that I will try to make something good come from this horrible nightmare,” she said.
McKiski’s pledge followed her guilty plea in September to second-degree counts of manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter and reckless endangerment, along with charges of leaving the scene of a fatal crash and driving while intoxicated.
Prosecutors have said she was drunk and high on marijuana on Oct. 1, 2015 when she veered out of her lane in a Hyundai Santa Fe and hit Velasquez at 12:35 a.m. on Old Country Road as he cycled with friends.
The friends called 911 and police arrested McKiski in Mineola a short time later, according to authorities. Velasquez died in a hospital four hours after the crash.
Only hours earlier, the college senior had gotten a managerial job offer in the banking industry, his father, Carlos Velasquez, 60, said in an interview after the sentencing.
The Roslyn resident said his son, who went by Charlie, was preparing for a career in international banking and was set to graduate from Baruch College the next week.
Some members of Velasquez’s family cried in court as family friend Debra Martinez read aloud a letter from the victim’s father.
It recalled how the victim’s dreams “were destroyed in a moment,” and how his young friends took down McKiski’s license plate number for police but “had to grow up in seconds,” watching “his life fading away” while waiting for an ambulance.
The letter described the victim as a quiet person “who spoke sparingly but with great thought and insight.” It recalled how his sister, a medical student, had to see his lifeless body in the morgue and know that “all her knowledge could not change this outcome.”
The letter also said the Velasquez family was encouraged that by pleading guilty McKiski knew the damage she had caused and had acknowledged she had taken a life — a life they said mattered.
Of McKiski, the letter added: “We pray for her soul.”
Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas, whose office asked for a 4-to-12-year prison sentence for McKiski, released a statement later saying the motorist had fled the scene to try to hide her crime without even calling to get help for the dying victim.