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Kuczynski sentenced to 15 months for involvement in crash that killed Del. woman

June 10, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Cory Scott Kuczynski
Submitted Photo

After a two-hour hearing Friday in Washington County Circuit Court, a visiting judge sentenced a Hagerstown man to 15 months in the county jail for his involvement in a three-vehicle crash that killed a Delaware woman in 2010.

Cory Scott Kuczynski, 26, of 17544 Gay St., pleaded guilty on April 27 to driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury. Visiting Judge Gary Leasure Friday sentenced him to 30 months on the two convictions, suspending 15 months.

Upon release, Kuczynski will be on supervised probation for three years, Leasure ordered.

"The world is missing out on an amazing, amazing child," said Susan Paikin, mother of 20-year-old Danielle Paikin, who was killed in the crash.

"We have spent the last year trying to come to terms with her absence," Paikin's father, Alan, wrote in a victim impact statement. "Truthfully, the pain has, if anything, become more difficult to bear."

The fatal crash occurred shortly after 1 a.m. on May 6, 2010, when a car driven by William J. Turner of Sharpsburg crossed the centerline of Md. 65 near Dunker Church Road and collided almost head-on with a car driven by Lauran Dwyer of Clear Spring.

Shortly thereafter, a northbound car driven by Kuczynski struck the passenger side of Dwyer's Buick, which was disabled in the road.

Paikin, 20, of Newark, Del., died in the accident. Lauran Dwyer's brother, Joseph, was standing outside the car when the second impact occurred and was pinned beneath it, Maryland State Police said. Lauran Dwyer was also injured, police said.

Kuczynski tried to drive away from the crash scene, but his car was disabled and he left on foot, police said. He later showed up at his parents' home, police said.

A test taken three hours after the crash showed Kuczynski had a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent, the legal limit for intoxication in Maryland, according to police.

He was later charged by criminal informations filed by the Washington County State's Attorney's Office with two counts of causing life-threatening injuries while driving under the influence, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury and other offenses.

The charges of causing life-threatening injuries while driving under the influence were dismissed as part of the April 27 plea agreement, according to court records.

Kuczynski was never charged in Paikin's death. Kessell said at the time the charges were filed in February that the state could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Paikin's death was due to Kuczynski's car hitting Dwyer's.

"There are those who get it, and those who don't .... Mr. Kuczynski doesn't get it," Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell told Leasure. Some offenders learn their lesson the first time, while others become repeat offenders, he said.

Kuczynski has had several alcohol-related incidents since 2004, including a previous conviction for driving under the influence in New York in 2009, Kessell said.

"He hasn't learned anything from his first contact with the court system in 2004," Kessell said, asking the court to impose two years in prison. "It's time he served a sentence for the purpose of punishment."

"He's sorry for this ... and sorry's not enough, but he's doing the best he can to turn this tragedy into a learning experience," defense attorney D. Benson Thompson III said. He asked the court to give his client home detention so that he could continue to work and care for his 2-year-old son.


Families torn

Police investigators were unable to determine if Kuczynski could have avoided the crash under any circumstances, because it happened at night on an unlighted stretch of road, and there was a disabled car in the road.

William Turner was the driver responsible for the crash, according to Kuczynski's father, Edward Kuczynski. He said his son "panicked" and left the scene, but fully cooperated with police.

Had alcohol not been involved, Edward Kuczynski questioned whether he would have been charged.

"He has not run from or dodged his responsibilities," said Edward Kuczynski, who raised questions about the Dwyers' cooperation with police.

Lauran and Joseph Dwyer both asked that Leasure impose the maximum sentence of three years on Kuczynski. Joseph Dwyer said he still experiences pain from the injuries he sustained in the crash.

"We were offended by some of the things the Kuczynski family said about us," the Dwyers' father, Tim, said after the sentencing. "A year or two in jail is not enough for the harm he's caused."

Kuczynski was charged for a May 30 incident at his home in which he is accused of scuffling with a trooper investigating a report of a loud party.

He was charged by state police with disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, failing to obey a lawful order by a peace officer, resisting arrest and second-degree assault, according to the charge summary.

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