A New York trucker has been sentenced to up to 4 and a half years of jail time after his truck rear-ended a motorist, killing the car’s driver, while he was taking an online survey on his cell phone. Kristofer Gregorek, a resident of Ballston Spa, New York, pleaded guilty in February to manslaughter charges.
This month, State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns issued Gregorek an indeterminate sentence of between 1 and a half and 4 and a half years. The 28-year-old Ballston Spa resident had pleaded guilty in February to what Erie County District Attorney John Flynn described as the “highest charge” that could be sought for death Ellen Volpe, 45, of Rochester. “The defendant is a young father with no criminal history,” Flynn said. “He will now spend time in prison as a result of his recklessness.”
State police say the June 8, 2017 crash occurred when Volpe and Gregorek drove west on the New York State Thruway. At 9:33 a.m. he was using his cell first to shop online and then to take a survey as he approached a construction site near the Depew exit. Volpe was headed to Buffalo, where she worked as a nursing professor. Gregorek was driving 70 mph when his 2016 Freightliner crashed into her 1999 Honda, killing the mother of two toddlers. One person was hospitalized for injuries when the collision ended as a five-car pileup.
If Gregorek hadn’t received an indeterminate sentence, New York code could have allowed a sentence of up to 15 years. Indeterminate sentences lists minimum and maximums incarcerations allowed a specific crime under state law. Gregorek could receive parole after serving the minimum or be released even before that if he earns merit time for good behavior.