NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A convicted drunk driver cried in court before he was sentenced for killing an elderly woman.
The victim died a year ago, on her way to Sunday services.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Charles Koukalenious of East Islip sobbed uncontrollably on Wednesday, as he hugged his family and said goodbye.
Mary Rogalle, 84, Eucharistic Minister and Catholic charities volunteer was mowed down on Carleton Avenue on her way to Sunday mass.
It happened near her Central Islip home.
The mother of 10, grandmother of 12, and great-grandmother of 1, with another on the way, was the heart and soul of her community, and the glue that kept her family inseparable.
Koukalenious, 30, admitted that he was drunk on vodka on his way to a Sunday softball game.
He was going so fast that he crossed over into oncoming traffic and slammed head-on into Rogalle.
Prosecutors said he was driving like a mad man with a blood alcohol level of .23, nearly three times the legal limit.
Koukalenious tearfully apologized in court, and said his life had spiraled downward since the unexpected death of his brother Philip.
“He’s been suffering from alcoholism. He’s been battling with depression, trying to move on, but never got pas it. The whole family has struggled,” Defense Attorney Ira Weissman said.
The courtroom was filled with emotion on both sides.
With his guilty plea Koukalenious was given 5 to 15 years in state prison. The Rogalles were saved from a difficult trial.
Mary Rogalle’s husband Peter died 5 months later of a broken heart, the family said.
On Thursday, the couple would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.