"They were right on top of each other as they were weaving in and out of traffic," Kevin Morgan of Glen Cove testified before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen. "It seemed as if they were in some sort of competition, getting down the roadway."
He testified at the trial of Damian Dudkiewicz, 28, of Lindenhurst, who is charged with four counts of second-degree manslaughter.
Morgan's testimony was important for the prosecution for a couple of reasons. Without evidence of a race, it will be difficult to prove Dudkiewicz drove with criminal recklessness. Speeding alone is not evidence of reckless driving and there is no evidence that Dudkiewicz was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Other eyewitnesses have said they saw no sign of racing between Dudkiewicz and Michael Fredericks, who will be tried later.
The only other testimony suggesting the crash was the result of a race came from Morgan's girlfriend, Kaitlin Bromwell. But her trial testimony varied significantly on numerous details from what she told police earlier.
Morgan, on the other hand, gave the same account he had always given.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Patricia Brosco, Morgan said he and Bromwell were headed to his parents' home in Lindenhurst when Fredericks' white Dodge pickup passed him while they went east on Montauk Highway. He said he noticed its loud exhaust and "a black cloud of smoke out the back."
Soon afterward, the truck was cut off by a blue Mitsubishi, driven by Dudkiewicz, and the two wove through traffic until reaching a traffic light, he said. There, they revved their engines and inched up to the line before they took off at high speed, he said.
"I said to my girlfriend, 'These guys are going to kill somebody,' " he said.
They were about a block ahead of him when the blue car tried to go left but was blocked by the truck. It went right, went out of control to the left and hit a minivan coming the other way.
Killed in the crash were a passenger in the minivan, Teresa Zuardo, 69, of Brooklyn; and the passengers in Dudkiewicz's car -- Grzegorz Osko, 29; his wife, Kamila Boriczka Osko, 26; and Dudkiewicz's fiancee, Magda Siwik, 30, all of Lindenhurst.
During cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon of Hauppauge, Morgan acknowledged that his first statement to police contained few of the details he later gave when Brosco and a detective interviewed him.
But Brosco asked Morgan, "Did anyone tell you what to tell the jury here today?"
"No," he replied.