Thursday, September 4, 2008

Woman Sentenced to Six Months for Fatal Accident

Killed Elderly Man While Driving Drunk on Metro Ave

By Conor Greene

A Glendale woman was sentenced to six months in prison for her role in a drunken hit-and-run accident on Metropolitan Avenue last year that claimed the life of an 81-year-old man.

In an emotional hearing in Queens Criminal Court last week that included statements by the victim’s son and daughter, Diana Toro was sentenced for the accident in Middle Village last October 8 that took the life of Franz Fuerch as his wife looked on in horror.

Toro, 30, pled guilty in June to second-degree vehicular manslaughter in exchange for a sentence that included a six-month jail term and five years probation. She initially had also been charged with criminally negligent homicide, drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

During last Thursday’s sentencing in Queens Criminal Court, the victim’s daughter said she is “disappointed” to be a resident of a state that offers such “leniency” to an individual responsible for the death of another person. “As a daughter, I’m broken, and as a mother, I’m frightened,” she said. “Your actions, Diana Toro, had consequences to my family... You robbed my father of his life. He will not see another birthday because of your carelessness.”

The accident occurred just before 11 a.m. near 74th Street as Toro was driving her Plymouth Voyager minivan from work to pick up her daughter at daycare. She lost control of the vehicle and swerved into a parked car before hitting Fuerch, who was getting into his parked VW Passat.

After hitting Fuerch, Toro drove away from the scene but was detained several blocks away until police arrived. Fuerch was pronounced dead a shot time later at Elmhurst Hospital Center, and Toro was arrested after failing sobriety tests.

Before Toro received her sentence, Richard Fuerch, one of the victim’s sons, addressed the court. Unlike his sister, he didn’t express disappointment with the sentence that was about to be handed down.

“Diana Toro caused [my father’s death] by recklessly driving a car while intoxicated at 10:30 in the morning,” he said. “My mother witnessed his broken and bleeding body lying on the street.”

Fuerch recalled his father as a “dear husband” and “beloved father” who took joy from “the simple things” such as having lunch with his wife at local Polish restaurants or taking her to the bakery, which is what they were doing when he was killed. “Just taking Mom to the bakery for a loaf of bread was a cherished act,” he said. “He always greeted us with a huge smile of joy.”

The victim’s wife was not in court for the sentencing and has suffered greatly due to the loss of her partner, according to the family. “Her grief became so great that she had to be hospitalized,” said Richard Fuerch. “She can no longer tend to her needs.”

He said that Toro must “live with this fact that her actions led to my father’s death” and “must spend time in prison to reflect on her actions. “I miss my father deeply,” he said. “I think about him every day.”

Speaking through a translator, Toro said she knows she “did something cruel” and asked the family for forgiveness. “I’m prepared for what comes next and promise to be a better citizen,” she said.

Following the sentencing, Toro’s attorney, Robert DiDio said his client had finished working a midnight to 8 a.m. shift and had “a couple of drinks” with co-workers before heading home. He described her as a single mother who “has a spotless record” and is a hard worker. “Sometimes we made bad choices with tragic results,” he said.

Toro is expected to serve four months in jail before being released. She was also fined $1,000 and her drivers license was revoked. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office refused to comment on the sentence Toro received.

Photo: Richard Fuerch (right) leaves Queens Criminal Court with family and supporters after the driver who killed his father last October was sentenced for her role in the wreck.


Anonymous said...

Well, thank God for my dear friend bennie who held her till police got there!! Kudos

Anonymous said...

What a sad ending to a Life that seemed Charished... I don't feel the sentencing is does justice! Thank you for detaining her Bennie! You are a hero in this matter!

Anonymous said...

What a travesty! This woman would never see the light of day had I been the judge. The grieving family deserves far better treatment than this. God put you in the right place at the right time, "Bennie-Mac". As a journalist, I must say both the reporter and editor should be taken to task for not publicly mentioning your name. What you did made all the difference in this tragic case! Love you, man! "The G-Man"