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New York man pleads guilty to manslaughter in fatal 2013 accident

Court officials in New York said that on Feb. 20, a Patchogue man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with a fatal 2013 accident. Representatives from the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said that the man, now 48, drove after using drugs, resulting in a collision that killed one person and injured another.

The accident occurred in January 2013 in Sayville. The 48-year-old man was traveling on Montauk Highway when he struck a vehicle carrying two people head-on. That car's 82-year-old driver, a West Islip man, died as a result of the accident. His 79-year-old passenger, an Oakdale woman, suffered serious injuries.

Police said that the man had used PCP, morphine and other drugs before getting behind the wheel of his vehicle. He was indicted for second-degree murder by depraved indifference, aggravated vehicular homicide and other offenses. He entered a guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter. A representative from the district attorney's office said that proving depraved indifference had proven difficult in previous cases and could have resulted in the man facing little time in prison. The man faces 21 years in prison at his sentencing hearing on May 15 and will not be eligible for parole until 2032.

People who drive after using drugs or alcohol demonstrate criminal negligence that often results in fatal accidents. Drunk or drugged drivers are often convicted of manslaughter or other charges that carry long prison sentences or other penalties. However, criminal and civil court proceedings are separate, and victims' families who want to seek compensation from impaired drivers must do so in civil court. Personal injury attorneys are sometimes able to provide families of deceased drunk driving victims with advice on their eligibility to file wrongful death suits after a fatal car accident.

Source: Medford Patch, "Patchogue Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter in Fatal 2013 Crash," Ryan Bonner, Feb. 20, 2015

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