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The Telegram
  • Driver in deadly crash: ‘I am a coward’

  • If there’s anyone who knows how much of a coward Daniel Conklin is, it’s Conklin himself.

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  • If there’s anyone who knows how much of a coward Daniel Conklin is, it’s Conklin himself.
    Conklin was the “black sheep” in his family, he acknowledged, who failed at everything he ever did. 
    And when Herkimer police began to pursue him for speeding in a school zone the morning of May 24, 2012, his fear of going back to prison got the better of him. He drove faster and faster on Route 5, refusing to stop until his car slammed into the SUV driven by 65-year-old Gail Pietruska.
    Pietruska had been a warm and loving woman, a guiding “compass” in the life of her younger sister, Louise Medallis, who also was injured in the crash. Together the sisters had moved from New Jersey to Frankfort two months earlier, wondering what their new lives would be like in a new place.
    So when Pietruska died that day, Conklin joined Pietruska’s sister in wishing he had been killed in the crash instead.
    “I wish I could trade places with Gail and maybe bring her back to life,” Conklin said in Herkimer County Court before he was sentenced by Judge John Crandall to 5 to 8 years in prison for second-degree manslaughter, second-degree assault and first-degree unlawfully fleeing police.
    “Anything I can do for you and your family, I’m at your mercy ‘til the day I die,” Conklin told Medallis.
    But as far as Pietruska’s sister is concerned, Conklin’s suffering in prison and ultimate death one day will be satisfaction enough.
    “When your time comes for you to leave this world, I hope I’m there so I can curse your dead body, and know you’ll be spending the rest of eternity with the devil,” Medallis told Conklin, her voice rising with rage.
    “Then I’ll be satisfied that you’ve been fully punished,” Medallis finished, “and then I’ll have justice for you killing my sister, you coward!”
    Standing alongside his attorney, Norman Mastromoro, Conklin agreed he is everything that Medallis believes he is.
    “You’re 100 percent correct: I am a coward, a lowlife, all of the above,” Conklin read from his prepared remarks. “No one knows that better than me.”
    But, Conklin finished, “Anyone who looks down on me, put your self in my shoes and walk a day in my shoes, and see what I go through.”
    Conklin was prosecuted by Herkimer County District Attorney Jeffrey Carpenter.

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