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Feb 24, 2015 12:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Allison Rydberg Sentenced To Prison Following Fatal Water Mill DWI Crash

Feb 25, 2015 11:04 AM

A Hampton Bays woman was sentenced to at least 28 months in state prison on Tuesday in connection with the April 2014 death of a passenger in her vehicle, which she crashed into a utility pole in Water Mill while driving drunk.

In an emotional statement in court, Allison Rydberg, 25, said the death of Jason Pollak, 24, of Water Mill offers a punishment of its own, one that will far outlast her term in prison.

“Please believe that if there was anything I could do to change what happened, I would do it in a heartbeat,” a tearful Ms. Rydberg said before the sentence was handed down and she was escorted from court in handcuffs to begin her sentence. “If given a choice, I would have gladly traded places with Jason—but I was not given that choice, and I cannot take back the horrible result of my actions.

“Living within the confines of this powerlessness is something that plagues my mind and breeds immense feelings of regret on a level I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. To me, it is this life sentence of guilt and shame that is my true punishment.”

Ms. Rydberg was driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.25 percent—more than three times the legal limit—on April 19, 2014, when she slammed into a utility pole on Montauk Highway, killing Mr. Pollak, her passenger. She pleaded guilty in November to charges of first-degree vehicular manslaughter, a felony; aggravated DWI, a misdemeanor; and excessive speeding, a violation.

She was sentenced on Tuesday by Justice Fernando Comacho to serve anywhere from 28 months to seven years in state prison. Three other felony charges—second- and third-degree manslaughter, and recklessly causing a death—were satisfied as part of the guilty plea.

“She is taking full responsibility for her actions,” her East Hampton-based attorney, Tad Scharfenberg, said on Tuesday afternoon following her sentencing. “She understands what is in front of her, and she is suffering the consequences. It is a shame. Two families that knew each other in a small town have been really destroyed. It is devastating all around. It is just raw pain for everyone involved.”

Ms. Rydberg was arrested in the early hours of April 19, 2014, after she was found unconscious in her 1997 Toyota Avalon, which was resting near a tree at the intersection of Flying Point Road and Montauk Highway in Water Mill. Critically injured, she was taken to Southampton Hospital by the Southampton Village Volunteer Ambulance and later transported to Stony Brook University Hospital. Mr. Pollak was removed from the car and transported to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Immediately following the crash, Ms. Rydberg was charged with misdemeanor DWI, arraigned at Southampton Village Justice Court and then released after posting $75,000 cash bail. In June, her case was transferred to Suffolk County Court when the more serious charges were filed.

In her statement in court on Tuesday morning, Ms. Rydberg vowed to dedicate the rest of her life to keeping Mr. Pollak’s legacy of charity and kindness alive.

According to Mr. Scharfenberg, Ms. Rydberg will serve the first week of her sentence in the Riverside County Jail before being transferred to a processing facility, where officials will determine the best facility for her to serve the rest of her sentence. Ms. Rydberg will serve at least 28 months in the jail before going before the parole board that will determine the length of the rest of her stay, which will not be longer than seven years. Her time will be affected by what programs she participates in while incarcerated, good behavior, and rehabilitation efforts.

Before Ms. Rydberg was escorted out of the courtroom, Justice Camacho said he believed that Ms. Rydberg was sincere in her apology, and he urged her to use her time in prison to make the changes necessary to live a better life after her release.

“I’ve seen many of these cases, and many times defendants who come before me for sentencing are insincere,” he said. “I believe she is sincere in what she is telling me today.”

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Sad for everyone involved and their families.
By Mouthampton (437), Southampton on Feb 24, 15 6:28 PM
never a good ending. sorry for all.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Feb 24, 15 6:55 PM
She will have to live with this for the rest of her life. Prison, rehab, nothing is going to erase the memory. Hopefully, despite the disparity both families will be able to move on from this and she will be able to get the assistance to cope with what occurred.
By Kat (10), Southampton on Feb 26, 15 3:56 PM
1 member liked this comment
God bless all these families. Reminder to us all to save a life- don't be the one to drink or drug and drive, and stop anyone else from doing the same around you.
By Shinnecock Hills family (59), Southampton on Feb 28, 15 10:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
1) Move this article near Steudte's.
2) Provide a photo of convict.
By Lets go mets (377), Southampton on Mar 1, 15 8:40 PM
1 member liked this comment
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