Driver Gets 4 Years For Drunken Driving Crash
ELIZABETH – 30-year-old Robert McGowan of Connecticut pleaded guilty in September to charges of second-degree vehicular homicide and third-degree assault by auto.
These charges stem from an incident that took place on 1 October 2011, resulting in the death of 69-year-old Peter Tyliczka of Old Bridge. Two passengers riding in the vehicle were also injured in the crash.
The victims daughter, Sheri Tyliczka, stood in court Friday and confronted the man who admitted causing the accident and killing her father five years ago. The drunk driving crash took place in Westfield when McGowan was driving on Tice Place shortly after 1 a.m. He went through a stop sign and struck Tyliczka’s 2001 Cadillac Eldorado as he was driving on Clifton Avenue. As a result of the collision, Tyliczka was thrown from the car.
McGowan’s blood alcohol level was recorded at 0.08%, above the legal limit for being intoxicated.
“You, Robert McGowan, have handed down a life sentence for my family. We are coming up on our sixth Thanksgiving without my dad,” the tearful daughter said in court.
McGowan was sentenced to four years in prison for the incident to which Sheri Tyliczka said, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel for you. There is no light for my family. I wish you the best of luck, but you have devastated my family.”
Before the sentencing, McGowen turned and apologized to the nearly two dozen friends and relatives of the victim who were present at the court hearing. “You don’t have to like me, but I want to say I’m sorry,” he said. He expressed his sorrow in a letter he wrote to the family of the victim.
McGowan’s lawyer, Michael Pappa, argued for a shorter sentence of less than a year in the county jail saying that Tyliczka was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. He also argued that weather played a role in the crash and the stop sign was partly obscured by a tree. Moreover, he stated that a witness reported that Tyliczka did not have his car lights turned on, considering that the driver was traveling at around 1 a.m. it was dangerous.
According to Carolina Lawlor, the Union County Assistant Prosecutor, McGowan was familiar with the intersection as he was living in Connecticut at the time of the crash, though he graduated from Westfield High School.
Lawlor said that McGowan told police he had three or four beers prior to the crash. Moreover, although Mr. McGowan had stopped at that intersection many times before, he was traveling at 45 mph in an area with a 25 mph speed limit.
An indictment against McGowan was not obtained by the prosecutor’s office for the crash until November 2015. According to Lawlor, that was because of seat belt issues and other factors in the case.
McGowan went on to become a businessman in Connecticut after the crash. Shorty before he was indicted in November 2015, he was elected to the town council in Trumbull, Connecticut. He resigned one day after the news of the indictment resurfaced.
According to Superior Court Judge Scott J.Moynihan, McGowan had no prior record. Also, he had apologized to the family. Moynihan said that he has never seen such sincere remorse in over 19 years of service on the bench. He also appreciated the volunteer work McGowan has done and his plans to speak before youths about the dangers of drinking and driving.
McGowan let out a soft sigh when Moynihan announced that a four-year sentence that had been negotiated in a plea agreement. However, McGowan must serve three years and five months of the sentence before he is eligible for parole.
Moynihan also offered condolences to the relatives of all the victims. He then addressed McGowan saying, “I think you’ll come out alright, and you’ll be able to resume your life.”