NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It was sentencing day Wednesday in a horrific drunken driving crash on the Williamsburg Bridge.
The victim was a passenger celebrating her 21st birthday. CBS2’s Lisa Rozner was there as the woman’s devastated family spoke to the driver for the first time.
It was a car crash so bad that it sliced a four-door sedan in half. On a Thursday last March at 3:15 a.m., Stefan Hoyte, 27, drove drunk at 111 mph and crashed into a pillar on the Williamsburg Bridge.
Hoyte and a front-seat passenger survived. But Amanda Miner, 21 – who was sitting in back – was thrown out of the car and died.
“Amanda was a beautiful person inside out,” said the victim’s best friend, Tatiana Torres. “We all love her very much. She was very talented. She was smart. She was doing stuff with her life. She was very big on education.”
Miner was an aspiring social worker and was at home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on spring break at the time. Her friends and family showed up in droves Wednesday for Hoyte’s sentencing.
Hoyte, a former NYPD traffic agent, smirked before the judge sentenced him to four to 12 years in prison.
Hw pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter and vehicular manslaughter – both in the second degree.
“He spared everyone and the family the ordeal of going through the trial,” said defense attorney Scott Cerbin. “It’s just a very sad case, and I hope that both families can start healing now.”
In court, Hoyte said, “I hope her family will be able to forgive me,” and added that he was “very sorry.”
He said he considered Miner “a friend” and said, “We were celebrating her birthday and unfortunately, it was a traffic accident.”
But Miner’s sister, Linda Miner, said, “She was not with any friends celebrating her birthday.”
The judge would not allow cameras into the courtroom, but the victim’s family’s impact statements were so touching that even court employees became emotional. At one point, a sister of Miner’s turned to Hoyte and said, “After your punishment, you will return to your family, but we will have to live with Amanda’s absence forever.”
Miner’s family said she spent her free time helping the homeless. Her father told Hoyte that he hopes he will strive to bring positive energy into his life as Miner herself did during her lifetime.
Miner would have graduated from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania this year.