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Driver pleads out in crash that killed his girlfriend, best friend

Northwest

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Johnston man was sentenced to prison Tuesday for causing a crash that claimed the lives of his girlfriend and best friend.

Zachery Albanese, 22, pleaded no contest to amended charges including driving to endanger resulting in the deaths of Taylor Reilly and Dylan Laurenzo.

“I cannot explain the level of emptiness that losing a child leaves you with,” Reilly’s stepfather, John Potvin, said in court Tuesday.

Potvin was one of several of the victims’ family members who provided impact statements ahead of Albanese’s sentencing.

Anthony Laurenzo said he was on his way to celebrate his brother’s birthday when he got stuck in traffic caused by the December 2016 crash.

“I had a gut feeling that something happened,” he recalled. “The last text I sent to [Dylan] was, ‘please tell me you’re OK, there’s a huge accident on Hartford Ave.’ I never got a response.”

Police allege Albanese was racing another car on Route 6 when he clipped a third vehicle, which caused him to veer into a gas station parking lot and hit an unattended SUV at a gas pump, sparking an explosion.

Reilly and Laurenzo were passengers in Albanese’s vehicle and both died as a result of the crash.

“I could not leave my baby alone on that stretcher in that room. She looked so peaceful and I could not believe she was gone,” Potvin said. ” I held her hand and I kissed her forehead. I will never forget how cold she was.”

In addition to driving to endanger death resulting, Albanese also pleaded no contest to driving to endanger resulting in personal injury and reckless driving. He was sentenced to 18 months at the ACI’s minimum-security facility followed by three years of home confinement, 10 years of probation, a two-year loss of license, and 500 hours of community service.

Reilly’s family said they met Albanese the night before the crash. Her mother, Keri Potvin, said she hopes some good can come out of the tragedy.

“We want to know that Taylor and Dylan did not die in vain,” she said. “We want to know that someone else’s child will have a chance at life despite the fact that ours did not. We look forward to hearing of Zach’s speaking engagements within local high schools while spreading the message of ripple effects of reckless driving.”

“It is my strong belief that Zach was left here on this Earth for a reason,” she continued. “We expect that he will use this opportunity afforded to change others’ lives in a positive way.”

Albanese briefly addressed the court, saying he was grateful for the opportunity to speak directly with the victims’ families prior to Tuesday’s hearing.

He’s scheduled to report to court Friday morning to begin his sentence.

The second driver arrested, Peter Lawrence, 26, of Scituate, pleaded no contest last month to driving to endanger death resulting, driving to endanger resulting in physical injury, and street racing. He was given a five-year suspended sentence along with five years of probation, nine months of limited permission to travel, a $500 fine and 10 hours of community service.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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