Damian Garra had such a bright future.
"Me and Damian were going to make it big, get married, start a family," said Kashmir DeLisle, his longtime girlfriend.
A drunken driver ended that dream last August.
Paul Hintermeier, 37, was driving drunk Aug. 11 on Richard Drive in Cheektowaga, where he ran a stop sign and fatally struck Garra, 18, who was on his bicycle. A State Supreme Court justice on Tuesday sentenced Hintermeier to up to six years in prison.
The courtroom was full of family and friends of Garra. DeLisle gave a tearful statement to the court, asking for the highest possible sentence for Hintermeier. She described Garra as mature beyond his years.
“I’ve never seen an individual so intelligent and strong-minded,” she said.
She spoke of her own difficulties she Hintermeier shattered her future.
“Sometimes I still feel like I’m back in August,” DeLisle said. “It’s hard for me to keep going."
It was around midnight when Hintermeier ran the stop sign as made a left turn onto Shanley Street and hit Garra. Hintermeier left the scene but police caught up to him at his home not long afterward. Blood tests at that time showed him with a blood alcohol content of 0.16 percent, twice the threshold of drunk driving.
In January, Hintermeier pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.
“I’m so sorry for this horrible incident,” Hintermeier told Justice John L. Michalski. “I don’t sleep. If I could trade places with him, I would. I am extremely sorry.”
Apologies notwithstanding, Michalski said, “The defendant’s careless, reckless and criminal conduct caused someone’s untimely death."
Hintermeier of Cheektowaga said he also is struggling in the aftermath of the collision.
In addition to the sentence of six years on the charge of vehicular homicide, the judge ordered up to three years of post-release supervision, a concurrent sentence of 1 1/3 to 4 years for leaving the scene, a $1,000 fine, a license revocation for one year and, should Hintermeier ever be allowed to drive again, three years using an ignition interlock system.