East Islip man gets 5-15 years for deadly DWI crash

An East Islip man was sentenced Wednesday to five to 15 years in prison for killing an 84-year-old woman while driving drunk.

Charles Koukalenios, 30, admitted to driving while drunk on Carleton Avenue in Central Islip last May when he crossed into oncoming traffic. He slammed into Mary Rogalle's car, killing the mother of 10.

Prosecutors called Koukalenios an alcoholic, saying he was drunk while driving 75 mph in the wrong lane before swerving into Rogalle's car. Blood tests showed that his blood-alcohol level was .23, which is nearly three times the legal limit. According to police, Koukalenios told them he had drank only two beers before getting behind the wheel.

Koukalenios wept Wednesday in court as he listened to Rogalle's children speak. He then spoke directly to them, saying, "I feel terrible... This is not the kind of person I am. I'm so sorry for your loss."

Koukalenios' attorney, Ira Weissman, says his client will not make excuses for what he did, calling him a good person who made a tragic mistake. He also says that Koukalenios understands the Rogalle family's pain better than most since his brother was murdered while he was in high school.

"Charles never got over it," Weissman said. "Now two families have to figure out a way to deal with the overwhelming grief of losing a loved one."

Rogalle's husband died four months after she was killed. Her family said in court that he died of a broken heart. Thursday would have marked the couple's 60th anniversary.

Koukalenios avoided a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison by pleading guilty. He also waived his right to appeal.

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