Mon August 13, 2012
Wrong-way driver sentenced for double-fatal crash
Matthew Ruckdaschel of Getzville has been sentenced to prison for a wrong-way crash on the Kensington Expressway that claimed two lives.
Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka sentenced Ruckdaschel to three-and-a-half to ten-and-a-half years in prison Monday morning.
Family members of the victims were visibly upset at the emotional sentencing.
Ruckdaschel was facing up to 25 years in prison after admitting he was drunk, speeding and driving the wrong way when he crashed his pickup into an SUV and caused the death of its two occupants.
Ruckdaschel pleaded guilty in April to Aggravated Vehicular Homicide in connection with the January 2011 crash. Prosecutors say he was driving 78 mph and impaired by marijuana and alcohol at the time of the crash.
Upon hearing the judge hand down the sentence, some of the victims' relatives stormed out of court while shouting.
A pair of cousins died in the crash: 37-year-old Orlando Anderson, a rental agent and father of three from Buffalo, and 42-year-old Thomas Johnson, a father of five from Cleveland, Ohio.
Before sentencing, the wheelchair-bound Ruckdaschel said he was sorry and "never wished to hurt anyone." He also asked for forgiveness.
Attorney Joel Daniels said Ruckdaschel was hospitalized for six months after the crash, underwent numerous operations, and now lives in constant pain as a reminder of his actions.