Moments before a Shirley man was sentenced to prison Wednesday for killing a man while driving drunk, the victim's anguished widow described how the crash has buffeted her and the couple's young children.
Steven Tolar, 54, pleaded guilty last month to second-degree manslaughter for the death of Scott Albrecht, 43, of Patchogue. Tolar crashed head-on into Albrecht on Dec. 17, 2010, on Montauk Highway in Brookhaven. Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. sentenced Tolar to 3 to 9 years in prison.
"I did not ask to travel this road," Debra Albrecht said to Toomey, her voice shaking with emotion. "We have no choice but to follow God into this dark and scary place."
Left to raise the couple's three young children by herself, she said her husband's loss is always present.
"I am constantly reminded that I am a widow, at age 43," she said.
"Nothing in life prepares you for this," she said later. "Decisions I once made with Scott, I now make alone. I am a half now, no longer a whole."
She said her three children ask constantly, " 'Why did Daddy die?' There is no answer here on Earth, but they ask it," she said, now in tears.
What makes it worse, she said, is that people like her will continue to lose loved ones to drunken drivers like Tolar.
"Someone else is going to travel this road I'm on, and it saddens me," she said.
Addressing Tolar in a yell as he hung his head, she told him he killed her husband of 12 years. "I forgive you for that, Steven Tolar," she said, her voice continuing to rise, "because my God, Jesus Christ, hung on that cross for you, as well as for me."
"I am truly, truly sorry," a soft-spoken Tolar said. "This is a tragedy. It is something that will plague me and my family. It tore up two families."
Toomey said Debra Albrecht's "eloquence defies belief" under the circumstances as he imposed the sentence. Assistant District Attorney Ian Fitzgerald had recommended a sentence of 4 to 12 years.