LOCKPORT – A man whose car crashed into the Erie Canal in North Tonawanda on June 20, striking two pedestrians and two dogs on the way, is headed for state prison.
Anthony D. Regalla, 48, of River Road, Wheatfield, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas agreed to a plea bargain setting Regalla’s maximum prison sentence at three to nine years. The legal maximum for the charges is five to 15 years.
The victims, Buffalo Firefighter Ronaldo C. Parker and his fiancee, Darnelle Brady of North Tonawanda, both suffered serious leg and foot injuries.
They declined to comment on the plea, but Deputy District Attorney Theodore A. Brenner said they had agreed to the plea deal and would speak at Regalla’s sentencing on May 6.
Besides the injuries to the pedestrians, who were walking on a bicycle path along the canal, one of Brady’s dogs was killed and another seriously injured.
For Regalla, who had told police he would beat the charges, it was his fifth drunken driving conviction.
He refused a breath test after he and his passenger were fished out of the canal by a witness, William Roberts.
A blood sample was taken forcibly and tested, showing a 0.25 percent blood-alcohol level, more than three times the legal threshold for intoxication.
“So what? I’ll beat it like that doctor,” Regalla said at the time. He was apparently referring to Dr. James Corasanti, the Getzville physician acquitted of all charges except a driving while intoxicated misdemeanor in the July 2011 death of 18-year-old Alexandria “Alix” Rice.
Parker, 49, a firefighter since 1994, and Brady, 42, tried to jump out of the way after Regalla’s car sped through the intersection of Oliver and Sweeney streets.
Regalla, who was living on Colonial Drive in the City of Tonawanda at the time, had just backed into a parked car outside an Oliver Street bar.
He drive south on Oliver. Going too fast to make a turn onto Sweeney, the car went over the curb and across a strip of grass and the bike path before striking the victims and splashing into the canal.
Regalla was unhurt, and his passenger, Nancy Hamilton, suffered only a minor injury in the incident, which occurred shortly after 11 p.m.
Regalla remains in the Niagara County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.