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Long IslandSuffolk

Retired teacher pleads guilty to DWI in fatal crash that killed barber

Diane O'Neill, 66, of Farmingville, pleaded guilty Monday,

Diane O'Neill, 66, of Farmingville, pleaded guilty Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, to driving while intoxicated in a Jan. 13 crash in Jamesport that killed a 90-year-old pedestrian. Photo Credit: Riverhead Poilce; Stringer News Service / AJ Ryan

A retired Southold High School teacher will serve no jail time for the drunken driving crash that killed a beloved 90-year-old barber in January.

Diane O'Neill, 66, of Farmingville, pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated Monday in Riverhead Justice Court, officials said.

O'Neill was sentenced to 1 year of conditional discharge and will have to operate her vehicle with an ignition interlock device for that time, according to court director Roberta Morrissey.

On Jan. 13, O'Neill, a longtime Southold math teacher, was charged with DWI, a misdemeanor, after she hit George J. Kurovics with her 2007 Mercedes-Benz as he was walking on Main Road near his Jamesport home, Riverhead police said.

Kurovics, a World War II veteran, was the owner of George's Barber Shop -- a fixture in Rocky Point since 1948.

"It's painful to us to have to cope with this loss and know that she's getting off so easy for killing someone due to her irresponsibility and recklessness," Kurovics' 34-year-old son, also named George, said Wednesday.

The victim's widow, Joyce Kurovics, 59, agreed but said she was told evidence of negligence was lacking.

"Obviously I would like for her to be punished more," she said. "The laws are what they are, and you need evidence."

Moments before he was hit, Kurovics had pulled over after spotting the body of his cat, Buddy. He had carried the pet to the side of the road, his family said.

Prosecutors opted not to upgrade the charge because the investigation revealed that O'Neill was driving below the speed limit when she hit Kurovics, and she pulled over and called 911, the Suffolk County district attorney's office said in an email.

O'Neill's blood-alcohol level was 0.08 percent, the legal limit for driving, prosecutors said. She told police at the scene that she had two glasses of wine at dinner and was on her way home.

"The investigation found no evidence of recklessness or negligence" on O'Neill's part, the prosecutors' office said.

O'Neill, who retired from the Southold district shortly after the crash, expressed sympathy for the victim's family in court, according to her attorney, Eileen Powers of Riverhead.

"I think that she's relieved that this ordeal is behind her," Powers said.

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