By Jano Tantongco
Lynne Rogers Pallmeyer watched on Tuesday as the alleged drunk driver accused of killing her sister in a fatal crash this past June was arraigned once again, this time with upgraded charges.
Ryan Gurecki has been indicted by a grand jury on 14 total charges, including three counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, for his role in the crash, which killed Karen Holden, of Huntington Station.
Gurecki, 34, of Lindenhurst, also faces charges of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of driving while intoxicated, driving while ability impaired, three counts of third-degree assault, reckless driving, failing to stop at a traffic control device, speeding and failure to maintain lane. He pled not guilty to all charges.
Gurecki was previously faced one charge of driving while intoxicated.
The upgraded charges came after investigators completed their investigation and additional drug tests were completed, according to authorities.
Judge Fernando Camacho set bail at $350,000 cash or $750,000 bond, which was not posted as of deadline Wednesday, according to court records. Gurecki is next scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 6.
On Tuesday, Pallmeyer said she, her family and friends of Holden “were extremely anxious of the outcome.”
She added, “We were pleasantly surprised because we were advised there was a likelihood we wouldn’t get that result.”
The June 26 crash also injured Holden’s husband, William, 57, and son, Robert, 23, both of whom were also in the car with her, and are currently recovering from their injuries, according to Pallmeyer. A GoFundMe page (Gofundme.com/2bkatf8) has also been established for the Holden family to cover medical expenses, legal fees and funeral costs.
The Holden family was reportedly traveling to Virginia to help son Kenneth Holden and his wife decorate their new home. Kenneth just completed his third year in the U.S. Army, Pallmeyer previously said.
After her sister’s death, Pallmeyer said she was spurred to create a campaign to curb drunk driving. It’s called Keys For Karen (Keysforkaren.com) and it aims to urge establishment owners to withhold car keys from potentially drunk patrons. She said the project is still in progress.
Pallmeyer said she’s also planning to form a nonprofit organization dedicated to assembling a nursing scholarship in the name of Holden, who was a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Flower Hill.
It would be “for students who someday aspire to be as good a nurse as my sister was,” Pallmeyer said.
She added that her next steps also include coordinating with Suffolk legislators to bolster existing laws on drunk driving.
“Something has to be done to make people aware that all they have to do is simply hand over their keys,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anyone in this whole world to go through what we're going through."