A Manhattan lawyer and philanthropist who hit and badly injured a lifeguard while driving drunk in Quogue was sent to prison after hearing from his victim about the damage he caused.
Tabber Benedict, 35, was returning home from the Hamptons early on July 4, 2011, when he came upon Steve Dorn, 44, of East Quogue, who was 42 miles into a 44-mile bike ride. Benedict, driving with a .23-percent blood-alcohol content -- nearly three times the legal limit -- hit Dorn and kept on going.
On Jan. 28, Suffolk County Court Judge James Hudson sentenced Benedict to 31/3 to 10 years in prison. Benedict pleaded guilty last year to driving while intoxicated, aggravated vehicular assault, leaving the scene of an accident with injuries and other charges.
After a second car behind Benedict's hit Dorn as well, the victim was left with a broken back, shoulder and hip, and faced months of painful physical therapy and medical bills.
In court, Dorn said he was unable to work as a lifeguard or a schoolteacher for months, leaving his wife to raise three daughters under the age of 3 on her own. Even now, though he is teaching, he said he has constant pain in his back and hip.
"My life is forever changed by his actions," Dorn said in court.
His attorney, Mark Heller, stressed the good works Benedict has done, including coaching tennis for young children.
The crash was out of character, Heller said. "Tragedy struck twice," he said, damaging the lives of both men.
Heller said the sentence will hit Benedict especially hard, because the felony conviction will automatically result in his disbarment.
In an interview, Dorn thanked the judge and the district attorney's office and urged bicyclists to wear helmets, saying, "I believe it saved my life that day."