A New Britain woman sentenced to four years in prison for the drunken driving crash that killed a paramedic in West Hartford last year said she wishes the tables had been turned.
"I wish it was me that died instead of him," Karen Torres, 33, said in court Thursday afternoon of crash victim Donovan Alden. "I know he was a good person. He was a paramedic who cared for people and saved lives."
Torres, who police say was speeding with a blood alcohol content twice the legal limit, will serve four years behind bars and five years of probation in connection with Alden's death.
She was seriously hurt in the March 2014 crash and appeared in court Thursday in a wheelchair.
Those who spoke on her behalf said Torres is a woman of character.
"Karen has always been driven to honor and acknowledge the dignity of the people that she interacts with," said Joan Hurley, who taught Torres sixth grade in 1992.
Her attorney, too, called Torres "kind and compassionate" and said her sentence was reduced because "there was such a positive report about her."
But colleagues of 32-year-old Alden, who had been an EMT for years and had just completed 2,000 hours of training to become a paramedic, had a hard time sympathizing for the woman responsible for Alden's death.
"I call it an incident because it wasn't an accident. It was poor choices made," said Chris Chaplin.
Prosecutor Donna Membrino went so far as to call it intentional.
"It was intentional for her to drive with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her blood," she said.
Another victim, a driver who couldn't stop after the initial impact and struck Alden's car from behind, said he's still living with the consequences of the crash.
"I have experienced memory loss and difficulty concentrating and attending to tasks," Zeeshan Rashid said in court Thursday.
Online court records show Torres pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, and second-degree assault with a motor vehicle.
Torres' attorney, Bill Gerace, said his client will be imprisoned in Niantic. Family and friends of Torres declined to comment on the case Thursday.
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