Anthony Scarpace was in church on Feb. 22 when he received a frantic call from his mother. His 82-year-old grandfather, August Taglienti, had been injured in a car crash and had been taken to Erie County Medical Center. Scarpace rushed there right away.
Another vehicle had hit Taglienti’s car head-on at about 10:20 that Sunday morning, but his family didn’t know the extent of his injuries. At the sentencing Tuesday for the other driver, Scarpace told a State Supreme Court justice that he went to the hospital expecting that his grandfather would get some stitches and he would take him home. He wasn’t prepared for what he found when he got to the ER.
“I didn’t even recognize him,” Scarpace said of the moment when he saw his grandfather. “Half the flesh on his face was missing; his eyelid was torn off. He somehow recognized me. He was shaking and in terrible pain.”
It was the beginning of a long hospitalization that ended 10 weeks later when Taglienti died.
The driver who caused the crash, Wayne Ware, 33, of Buffalo pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in August and on Tuesday was sentenced by Acting State Supreme Court Justice John L. Michalski to the maximum possible penalty, two and a third to seven years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Ware was slightly injured in the crash, but Taglienti had suffered severe head injuries, a broken neck, chest injuries and other trauma. Ware, high on drugs and driving without a license, drove across a double yellow line and into oncoming traffic on Clinton Street that morning. One driver swerved onto the shoulder to avoid being hit; the next car, Taglienti’s Chevy Equinox, took the full brunt of the crash.
Taglienti could remember the impact and being cut out of his car, his grandson said, and he tried to downplay his injuries for the sake of his family. But despite his will to live and the efforts of his physicians, the strong and independent retired autoworker died.
“My grandfather was the exact opposite of the person who caused this,” Scarpace told the judge, before turning to Ware and saying, “You’re young and sometime you’re going to get out (of jail). Hopefully you’ll make better choices so you don’t do this to another family.”
Ware, who has a history of drug abuse, was tearful and shaking while Scarpace spoke Tuesday, and before his sentencing, he told Michalski that he had been “clean” for four months and was getting counseling.
“I am a born-again Christian and I believe you reap what you sow,” Ware continued. “I am so, so sorry, from the bottom of my heart. That is real, it has nothing to do with going to jail. I am more than glad to accept this punishment.”