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Crash survivor confronts her sister's killer
HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - Sisters Louise Medallis and Gail Pietruska had just moved to Frankfort from metropolitan New Jersey two months prior to the May 24, 2012 car crash that killed Pietruska, 65, and injured Medallis, 54.
The two were turning from Paratore Rd. in Schuyler onto Rt 5. Daniel Conklin, of Rochester, was fleeing Herkimer Police, who'd tried to pull him over. He slammed into the sisters' car.
"My sister Gail was warm and loving. She liked a glass of wine at dinner and she loved anything that was British and she made us get up at 4 a.m. to watch Prince William and Kate get married," said Medallis in Herkimer County Court Thursday at the sentencing of Daniel Conklin.
Conklin pleaded guilty to manslaughter, assault and unlawfully fleeing a police officer back in January.
Medallis said that her sister had hoped to paint some watercolors and read all the books she'd bought but hadn't had the time to read. She told Conklino of the agony of speaking to her sister for the last time, in a local emergency room, before Pietruska was airlifted to a Syracuse hospital.
"My sister was unconscious. She was hooked up to machines and wires and intubated because she couldn't breathe on her own. And I was the sister who held Gail's hand and told her that I was there and it was okay and she would have to fight and I was fighting too. And I told her we're Danish, we have Viking blood, we can do this. And then I kissed her hand and I told her I love you and i'm glad you're my sister," said Medallis.
Medallis told Conklin that for the last 15 years of her career, her sister was a psychiatric nurse in a forensic ward of a New Jersey hospital, where she cared for criminals like Conklin.
Conklin himself said he wished he could go back in time and switch places with Pietruska.
Medallis called him a coward. He agreed.
"You're 100% correct I am a coward. A low life, all of the above. No one knows that better than me".
Conklin told Medallis he has nightmares about her and her sister.
"I see the shadow of the lady that was driving her vehicle, holding hands with her sister, pointing behind me crying, asking me to slow down. Nobody has any idea how that makes me feel inside," said Conklin, adding that he feels indebted to the women and their family. "I'm at your mercy and your family's mercy. Anything I can do for you and your family I'm at your mercy til the day I die"
Conklin will spend the next four to six years in prison for his guilty plea back in January to manslaughter, assault and unlawfully fleeing a police officer.