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Collins man gets maximum term in cycle crash that killed girlfriend

Ronald L. Tackentien tearfully told a judge Wednesday that the death of his longtime girlfriend last year "was the worst day of my life."

Beth Krezmien Szymanski, 48, of Colden, was killed on the night of June 13, 2010, on Route 240 in Colden after she was thrown from the motorcycle Tackentien was driving while drunk.

State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns ordered Tackentien, 55, to serve the maximum prison term of 1 1/3 to 4 years for criminally negligent homicide and felony drunken driving.

The judge, who found Tackentien innocent of a first-degree vehicular manslaughter charge that carried a prison term of up to 15 years, ordered him to serve five years on probation after completing his prison term.

Burns also fined Tackentien $520 and ordered him to use an ignition interlock device on any vehicle he drives for the first 24 months after he gets out of prison.

Tackentien has been jailed since his felony conviction May 25.

Tackentien, a laborer who lives on Route 39 in Collins, tearfully told the judge he was "sorry for getting on the motorcycle that night."

Prosecutor Bethany A. Solek said Tackentien had a blood alcohol level of 0.17 percent -- more than twice the state's legal limit -- when he lost control of his motorcycle. Tackentien would have had to have consumed up to 10 drinks before he got on his motorcycle that night, the prosecutor told Burns.

Relatives of both Tackentien and Szymanski declined to comment as they left the Buffalo courtroom, but attorneys for the victim's family said Tackentien is the subject of a civil suit over the fatal accident.

John K. Jordan, Tackentien's lawyer, said he still disputes the judge's verdict on the negligent homicide count, but he agrees that his "very remorseful" client was drunk.

Tackentien did not testify or call any witnesses during the three-day nonjury trial Burns conducted in May.

According to police reports, Szymanski, who had been dating Tackentien for about three years, was thrown from the back of his motorcycle when Tackentien lost control in the southbound lane of Route 240 and sped across the northbound lane onto the east shoulder of the road.

Tackentien was convicted of misdemeanor drunken driving nine years ago, according to court records.

He told the judge Wednesday that he will "never drink and drive again."

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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