A Surrey man who was drunk at the wheel during a crash that killed his close friend said his “guilt, grief and loss” is difficult to put into words.
“I am extremely remorseful,” said Andrew Henry Ostrowski during a sometimes tearful apology at his sentencing hearing in Surrey Provincial Court Wednesday afternoon.
Ostrowski, 28, was found guilty last May of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident causing death in connection with a 2011 crash that killed his close buddy Sergio Martinez.
“He was more than just a friend – he was part of my family,” Ostrowski told the court.
“It’s really hard to face the reality of this whole situation and the humility of having to face my friend’s children, my own children, everybody involved,” he said. “Since this accident my priorities have changed and it’s been a turning point in my life.”
Ostrowski has two children, as did Martinez. Ostrowski’s lawyer said he has apologized to the mother of Martinez’ children and that he hoped to make further amends by taking part in a “shame ceremony.” Both Ostrowski and Martinez’ children are of aboriginal descent.
During his trial last year, the court head that Ostrowski and Martinez had been doing repair work on a Honda CRX at Ostrowski’s home near 136 Street and 96 Avenue on Sept. 6, 2011.
They later got into the car and were driving down 132 Street and ran a red light at 88 Avenue. The CRX was T-boned on the passenger side. Martinez was taken to hospital, where he died.
Ostrowski was arrested about six blocks from crash, smelling of booze and slurring his words. He took the stand at trial, claiming both he and Martinez were passengers in the two-seat car and that a third man – who he said also fled the scene – had been driving.
On Wednesday, he apologized for lying about the non-existent mystery driver.
His lawyer said he has been attending violence prevention, life skills and substance abuse management programs while incarcerated.
Ostrowski said he has strived to learn more about alcoholism and now realizes alcoholics tend to be selfish and blame others.
“It’s a humiliating thing to admit,” he told Judge Peder Gulbransen, acknowledging he still has “a long journey to go.”
Crown has recommended a prison sentence of six to eight years, while the defence has suggest a three to three-and-a-half-year sentence. Ostrowski has been in custody on separate charges filed before the crash since last August.
His sentencing is scheduled for April 14.