Surrey man sorry for killing best friend while drunk driving

SURREY — Andrew Ostrowski choked back tears as he apologized in Surrey provincial court Wednesday for crashing his car while drunk and leaving his best friend to die.

Sentence will be passed April 14.

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

His friend, Sergio Martinez, was badly injured in the collision and died in hospital a few hours later.

“I’m extremely remorseful,” Ostrowski said. “I have to face all the people that I’ve hurt.”

The Crown is seeking six to eight years in prison for Ostrowski, who on Sept. 6th, 2011 blew through a red light in a busy intersection, crashed his car and left his best friend to die in the passenger seat to dodge being arrested on a prior robbery warrant.

Ostrowski admitted he has “a lot of issues” he has to deal with. “I still have a long journey to go,” he said.

Prosecutor Winston Sayson also asked Gulbransen to prohibit Ostrowski from driving for life. Ostrowski’s defence lawyer, Stephen Hutchison, asked the judge to consider a sentence “either long provincial or very short federal.” A federal prison term is anything over two years.

Hutchison said his client is sorry for his crimes. “He wants to make amends.”

He said Ostrowski started his own 12-step process in his unit at Surrey Pretrial centre in an attempt to deal with his “substance abuse disorder” and has become a “role model” for fellow inmates.

“Clearly alcohol played a massive role in what happened that evening,” Hutchison said.

Ostrowski was 23 when the crash happened. Driving while impaired, and while subject to an indefinite driving prohibition, Ostrowski 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.

Twenty minutes after the crash, police found Ostrowski 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.

“Again, I apologize for lying,” he told the court Wednesday.

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 Sayson noted Ostrowski had "lied repeatedly to multiple people" during the criminal investigation.

"He denied several times to being in a car crash," Sayson said. "He took the stand, perjured himself."

Ostrowski eventually admitted he had been the driver, almost three years after the fact.

Sayson said Ostrowski ran off because he didn’t want to be arrested for a robbery to which he later pleaded guilty.

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

Sayson also noted that on Feb. 12, 2008, Ostrowski was found guilty of driving while impaired, and has been on an indefinite driving prohibition since then.

The prosecutor read aloud Victim Impact Statements from the driver of the Nissan, Sanjay Arora, and Martinez’s fiancée, Corrina Tanner.

"It was a terrible sight to witness," read Arora’s account. He said he now suffers from anxiety, nightmares and has high blood pressure. "This man to this date is not well," Sayson said. "He did nothing wrong."

"I just wanted to die," Tanner wrote, after her fiancés death. "He was what I had to live for."

As for Ostrowski, she said, "He just leaves him there to die. It makes me so angry."

Hutchison noted in court Wednesday that Arora is suing Ostrowski for damages.

tzytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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