Surrey drunk driver who killed his best friend gets six-year prison sentence

SURREY – A Surrey drunk driver who blew through a red light in a busy intersection, crashed his car and left his best friend to die in the passenger seat has been sentenced to six years in prison.

But with credit for time served in Surrey Pretrial, Andrew Ostrowski’s sentence is actually five years. Judge Peder Gulbransen also prohibited him from driving for eight years, once he gets out of prison.

A psychiatrist found Ostrowski a high risk to reoffend but also found much of that was based on his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Gulbransen noted he’d been making headway on that, in custody.

“There is still some hope he can change,” the judge said while pronouncing sentence Tuesday in Surrey provincial court.

Gulbransen said Ostrowski’s crimes were “among the most serious in the Criminal Code.”

Ostrowski, now 28, was 23 when the crash happened on Sept. 6th, 2011. Driving while impaired, and while subject to an indefinite driving prohibition, he ran a red light, entering the intersection of 88th Avenue and 132nd from a left turn lane, and a Nissan SUV T-boned his Honda CRX.

Ostrowski’s friend, Sergio Martinez, was badly injured in the collision and died in hospital a few hours later. The court heard Ostrowski took off in an effort to duck being arrested for a prior robbery, to which he later pleaded guilty.

Twenty minutes after the crash, police found him walking down a side street a few blocks away, still intoxicated. He denied he was the driver and claimed he and the person behind the wheel both ran away right after the crash.

Ostrowski claimed a pal of Martinez whom he didn’t know had been the driver, but Gulbransen didn’t believe it. He found "many aspects" of Ostrowski’s testimony "improbable and unbelievable.

"While his attempts at deception were clumsy, Ostrowski was clearly trying to divert suspicion from himself by fabricating false statements about what had happened to him," the judge decided. "I find that Mr. Ostrowski’s testimony was not credible."

Gulbransen found Ostrowski guilty on May 22, 2014, in Surrey provincial court, of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and failing to stop knowing that death or bodily harm resulted.

Last week Ostrowski choked back tears as he apologized in court.

"The loss of losing Sergio is really hard to even put into words," he told Gulbransen. "He was more than just a friend, he was part of my family.

"I’m extremely remorseful," he added. "I have to face all the people that I’ve hurt."

Prosecutor Winston Sayson had argued for a sentence of six to eight years and asked Gulbransen to prohibit Ostrowski from driving for life.

"What will it take – what will it take – to stop him from driving?" Sayson asked, noting he’d already been found guilty of impaired driving, and had already been prohibited from driving when the fatal crash happened. "What will it take for him to obey? We don’t want anyone else to die because of his driving," Sayson said.

"He knew his friend was dying, and he left," Sayson told the court. "This is the ultimate act of selfishness.

"He left him to die because he didn’t want to be arrested on warrants."

Sayson said the "moral repugnance of fleeing from the scene cannot be overemphasized."

Defence lawyer Stephen Hutchison had argued for a sentence in the range of three to three and a half years.

"Clearly alcohol played a massive role in what happened that evening," Hutchinson told the court.

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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