Things may have turned out differently if Ramesh Biswa had stopped his car after he hit a motorcyclist in the early morning on June 7.
Instead, Biswa kept driving, until he was pulled over 30 minutes later by State Police who noticed damage to his vehicle. They charged him with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. It was only later that he was connected to the crash that left Randy Grzeskowiak on the roadside at Clinton Street and Bailey Avenue, seriously injured and alone.
Biswa, 35, a legal U.S. resident who came to Buffalo about three years ago from a Bhutanese refugee camp, pleaded guilty in October to leaving the scene of an injury accident. He was sentenced on Thursday to one to three years in prison.
The case was difficult for all involved, including Erie County Court Judge Thomas P. Franczyk.
Biswa’s attorney, Terrence Brennan, told the judge that Biswa is sole support for his family, because his wife still struggles with English and cannot work. Brennan asked that the judge consider weekends in jail and community service as punishment so Biswa wouldn’t lose his job.
Biswa also apologized profusely to the man he hit, whom he referred to as “Mr. Randy.”
“I am not a criminal-minded person,” Biswa said. “I am here (in the U.S.) in search of happiness, but I did wrong and take full responsibility for whatever sinful and sorrowful activities I have done.”
Turning to Grzeskowiak, Biswa held his hands together and said, “We say namaste. I ask for your forgiveness. I am very sorry.”
Grzeskowiak’s brother, James, already had spoken on his brother’s behalf, telling the judge that Biswa had “left the scene without a thought or care for what he had done” and called his actions “completely inexcusable.” He also said they have struggled to pay their bills. Their electricity was cut off since losing his brother’s income.
After Biswa spoke, Franczyk gave Grzeskowiak a chance to elaborate himself. Reluctantly, he came forward.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said. “You hit a dog, you stop, you know? You hit me and you left me on the side of the road – on fire. My bike caught fire, and I was on fire. I look around and there’s no one there … ”
“Cases like this are as difficult as they come,” Franczyk said. “But here’s what it comes down to: You drank, you had a BAC of .12 and drove. If it ended there, the court would bend over backwards. But you hit a motorcyclist and sent him flying. He was seriously injured and came close to losing his arm. His motorcycle is in flames, and he’s left to wonder, Why is nobody here to help me? – while you drove off on a tire rim.”
In the end, Franczyk concluded, “There too much of this going on.”
He sentenced Biswa to one to three years for leaving the scene and a year for the DWI, to run concurrently.