July 31, 2012 —
When 19-year-old Charles Wolf lost control of the vehicle he was driving on Haring Road in the Town of Lumberland in December 2011, the resulting accident cost the life of his cousin, Kyle MacKechnie.
On July 30, Wolf was sentenced to six months in the Sullivan County Jail and five years of probation for causing the death and committing vehicular manslaughter, which is a felony, and for driving while under the influence of drugs and alcohol, a misdemeanor.
According to a press release by district attorney Jim Farrell, “Toxicology reports established that Wolff had a .12% blood alcohol content and had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Additionally, a state police collision reconstruction established that he was also speeding. The crash also seriously injured 19-year-old Emily Hoffman of Eldred and 19-year-old Brian Conaty of Monticello.”
Farrell said Wolff was denied youthful offender status and will have a felony criminal conviction for the rest of his life.
Members of all three families, including Phil Conaty, father of Brian, who was seriously injured, spoke at length and implored the court not to sentence Wolff to any incarceration at all. As Phil spoke, Wolf broke down in remorse over the entire episode.
Judge Frank LaBuda imposed a sentence of incarceration with probation and noted that the horrific nature of this accident was caused by a 19-year-old college student’s “one stupid decision to drink and drive, and for that stupid decision, the defendant will live his entire life with the knowledge and the burning image that he caused the needless death of his cousin, Kyle, and seriously injured his best friends, Brian and Amy.”
Farrell said he was not in favor of a sentence that did not involve incarceration. He said, “This case was about youth, underage drinking, the use of drugs and speeding. These are, and will always be, a deadly and lethal combination. Our children need to know that this type of behavior is unacceptable and can lead to consequences that are irrevocable and last forever.”
An important part of the sentencing will require Wolf, for the next five years, to speak at the high schools in Sullivan County in June about his own experience and how a decision to drink and drive forever changed his life and lives of his family and friends. LaBuda said, “Hopefully, if we can prevent just one more accident like this, something good will come from the pain, suffering and chaos of this horrific and needless accident.”