Accident victim back in court with a change of heart - The Buffalo News

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Accident victim back in court with a change of heart

An Amherst woman who four years ago asked for a probation sentence for the man whose car hit her and severed her leg while he was driving under the influence of drugs returned to court Wednesday and asked that he be sent to prison.

Sarah J. Gregory asked the judge to put Steven R. Cavarello behind bars after he violated his five-year probation sentence repeatedly by continuing to abuse opiates, cocaine and other drugs.

“Steven decided to take your and my compassion and generosity of giving him the gift of probation four years ago, and he squandered it on continued drug use,” she told the judge.

She asked for the maximum prison sentence.

Gregory, who has a prosthetic leg and walks with a cane, said she was not seeking revenge.

State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia sentenced the defendant to the maximum – 16 months to four years in prison.

Cavarello, 35, who lived in Lackawanna at the time of the crime and now lives in Hamburg, had pleaded guilty in January 2010 to second-degree vehicular assault, a felony, and driving under the influence of drugs, a misdemeanor, according to Assistant District Attorney Bethany A. Solek.

His attorneys said he was high on a prescription substitute for heroin and an antidepressant during the afternoon of Sept. 17, 2009, when his vehicle slammed into Gregory, who was 30 at the time, and pinned her against a parked minivan.

She was walking back to her job at Sorrento Cheese when she was hit on South Park Avenue.

Her life was saved by an unidentified good Samaritan who used his belt to stop the bleeding from her injury.

At sentencing in March 2010, Gregory, who was then in a wheelchair, came to court with her husband and spoke tearfully at times about how she “almost died.”

She said she really came to court to speak on behalf of Cavarello’s “next victim.”

Buscaglia ordered Cavarello to turn and look at her in her wheelchair.

Gregory said she could clearly recall Cavarello’s car “barreling down on me” and seeing her leg “completely severed from my body” as the driver sat in his car and looked at her.

“You did nothing to help me,” she said, adding that she spent two months hospitalized and away from her newborn daughter.

She told Cavarello she hopes he thinks about “what you stole from me for the rest of your life.”

Under orders from the judge, Cavarello turned to Gregory and told her, “I can’t begin expressing how sorry I am. I was clearly on a path to destruction” by drug use.

Buscaglia cited Gregory’s “incredible compassion” in asking that he sentence Caravello to probation.

He also fined him $6,325 and, at Gregory’s suggestion, ordered him to spend 1,000 hours speaking to groups about the dangers of driving under the influence.

He also barred him from consuming illegal drugs or alcohol while on probation.


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