Hannah C. Dibble is not the "party girl of Pembroke" she once was, her attorney Ben Bonarigo told Judge Micheal F. Pietruzka, in County Court this morning before Pietruzka sentenced Dibble to six months in jail and five years probation for a drunken-driving accident that claimed the life of Alyson D. Krzanak.
Krzanak was an 18-year-old GCC student who hoped to become a Special Ed teacher.
The 23-year-old Dibble, who has gone from a California blonde to a bookish brunette since her last court appearance, told Piertuzka how sorry she was She apologized to Krzanak's family, her family, the families of the other accident victims, the community and any others hurt by her poor decision of Feb. 21, 2015.
Dibble was supposed to be the designated driver that night.
Bonarigo said when he first met with Dibble after the accident, he wasn't sure she really comprehended what she had done, her culpability in the accident. He said he was then "a doubting Thomas."
But as Dibble has proceeded through months of rehabilitation, much of it at her own insistence that she needed more work, through in-patient care to halfway houses and support facilities, he's seen Dibble come to grips with her own actions and reach the level of remorse where she wishes she could go back and if not undo what happened, at least trade places with Krzanak.
This morning's hearing opened with Alyson's parents, Dave and Renee Krzanak, delivering victim impact statements.
Both said Alyson was a joy, a friend, a talented and special person who had much to give the world. Dave said his wife still wakes up at night sometimes crying. He said he thinks about the fact that he will never walk his daughter down the aisle on her wedding day, see her graduate, have children, become a teacher.
Renee said Alyson was a miracle baby. After years of trying to conceive, she was about to undergo a fertility treatment when a doctor told her he couldn't do the treatment. She was already three days pregnant. If the doctor hadn't noticed that little embryo, Alyson wouldn't have been born.
They always knew Alyson would be special.
"She excelled at everything she tried," Renee said.
"People don't understand what it's like to lose a child until you lose your child," Dave said. "It's a sadness you can't imagine."
Renee said she last spoke to Alyson about 11:30 the night of the accident.
"Whatever you're doing, be safe," Renee said she told her daughter.
"I'll be safe," Alyson said. "I have a driver."
Alyson trusted her friend, Hannah C. Dibble, Dave and Renee said, and it was a trust misplaced.
"We don't hate Hannah Dibble," Dave said. "We hate the choice she made."
Dibble drove her 1997 Chevrolet Geo across Route 20 coming off Molasses Hill Road in Bethany and it was slammed into by a semi-truck.
Not only was Krzanak killed, three others suffered serious physical injuries: James Scherer, 21, Brandon Danser, 22, and Felecia J. Fazzio, 20.
Assistant DA Will Zickl said through getting to know Dave and Renee as he took them through the mundane legal process of prosecuting Dibble, he came to understand who Alyson was as a person.
"These are fine people," he said.
Their grace and understanding he said were a reflection of the grace and understanding Alyson would want shown to Dibble, which is why there was eventually a plea deal that would cap Dibble's maximum possible sentence to six months in jail and five years probation.
Pietruzka wasn't on the Genesee County bench for any of the prior hearings in the case and as he reviewed the court documents and notes last week, he said he was initially puzzled as to why Noonan agreed to such a seemingly light sentence in such a serious case.
"Now I understand as difficult as that commitment was, it was made after much discussion and consideration and in appreciation of Alyson and who she was as a person," Pietruzka said.
After signing court documents, Dibble was escorted, without handcuffs, from the courtroom, by a deputy. Officially, she's in the custody of the Sheriff's Office, but since the county jail is unable to house female prisoners, she will be transferred to another, as yet undetermined, county jail to serve her six-month term.
Dibble said she hopes to continue her rehabilitation and education and eventually enter the medical profession.
"I take full responsibility for what happened that night," Dibble said. "It's very clear to me what I must do. Every step I make in recovery, I dedicate to her. I must make sure everything in my life changes for the better and everything I do and have done will be in Alyson's name."