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Brian Friedrichs: 'I take full responsibility' for drunken-driving crash that killed best friend Christopher Gallina

Talking about the death of his best friend

Talking about the death of his best friend in a drunken July 2014 crash, Brian Friedrichs, 23, of Levittown said, "The death of my best friend is a punishment I'm going to have to live with the rest of my life." Photo Credit: New York State Police

A Levittown man said Thursday he took "full responsibility" for killing his closest friend in a high-speed, drunken-driving crash last summer, before a judge sentenced him to 4 to 12 years in prison.

"The death of my best friend is a punishment I'm going to have to live with the rest of my life," said Brian Friedrichs, 23, adding he would do whatever he could to try to make amends.

"I take full responsibility for my actions," he said.

Christopher Gallina, also 23, and from Levittown, died in the early-morning July 22 crash on the Northern State Parkway in Westbury. Prosecutors said Friedrichs was driving 120 mph in a Mazda when he lost control and the car flipped several times, ejecting both men.

"I'd also like to express my sincerest apology to Chris' family," Friedrichs told Nassau County Judge Alan Honorof, while also telling his own family members he was sorry.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Bushwack told the judge Friedrichs' car "was at 100 percent full acceleration" when the crash happened, and the defendant had been driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.14 percent. The legal standard for intoxication is 0.08 percent.

He also said the victim's family had remained "strictly sympathetic" toward Friedrichs, and didn't want to address the judge before he sentenced the defendant.

In April, Friedrichs pleaded guilty to a felony charge of second-degree manslaughter -- the top count against him -- and a misdemeanor drunken-driving charge. Separately, a misdemeanor drug case against the former pizza deliveryman is pending.

Authorities have said the Mazda's black box data recorder had showed how fast Friedrichs had been driving at the time of the crash. They also reported finding marijuana and marijuana pipes at the scene.

Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas called Friedrichs "a wildly reckless and drunken driver" who "tragically stole his passenger's life."

She has called for an increase in the penalty in cases like this one to a maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison. Under current law, Friedrichs had faced a maximum of 5 to 15 years in prison on the top charge against him.

"I've never seen somebody accept responsibility the way he has," Friedrichs' defense attorney, Alan Schwartz of Garden City, said after Thursday's sentencing. ". . . We'll see what use he makes of his time upstate. Hopefully it will be something positive and everything he said on the record here will turn out to have been heartfelt."


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