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By Rick Pezzullo
A Somers man was sentenced to state prison last week after being found guilty in February for driving while intoxicated and in the wrong direction that led to a head-on collision and the death of two Ardsley residents more than two years ago.
Jaime Paucar, 52, was sentenced March 28 by Westchester County Judge George Fufidio to 8 1/3 to 25 years in jail, with five years of post-release supervision.
On February 7, Paucar was found guilty following a four-week bench trial to two counts of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide, two counts of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, and Assault in the Second Degree, all felonies. He also was found guilty of Assault in the Third Degree, Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated, Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Driving, Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting Property Damage, and Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting Personal Injury, all misdemeanors. He was acquitted of two counts of Second-Degree Murder.
According to Westchester District Attorney Mimi Rocah, on January 30, 2020, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Paucar drove westbound in the eastbound lanes of I-287 in Harrison when he crashed head-on into the car driven by 57-year-old Jordan Wachtell, whose 17-year-old son and two teenage friends were passengers. A Westchester County toxicologist determined Paucar had a blood alcohol content of .24 at the time of the collision.
Wachtell died at the scene. One of the passengers, Eric Goldberg, 17, was transported to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where he died later that night. Wachtell’s son and the other surviving passenger were also transported to Westchester Medical Center and treated for their injuries.
Prior to the fatal collision, Rocah said Paucar was driving in the correct direction on I-287 when he crashed into a vehicle, fled the scene, exited the highway and retreated to a parking lot in Port Chester. Thereafter, while attempting to drive in the direction of his home, Paucar missed the entrance for I-287 eastbound/westbound and drove on several side streets before using an exit ramp to enter I-287 eastbound, despite signage and at least three motorists warning him he was driving the wrong way. Paucar then drove westbound in the eastbound lanes for more than two miles, sideswiping three additional vehicles before the fatal crash.
New York State Police arrested Paucar in March 2020 following a thorough investigation.
In a victim impact statement made to the court, a surviving passenger said: “I still have nightmares.To me, you are the boogeyman. We were just four people going to a basketball game. We could have never known your name or who you were, but you were selfish. You killed one of my best friends, Eric Goldberg. You killed Jordan Wachtell. You changed the lives of the Goldbergs, Wachtells and Rosens forever. You were the one who made my friends cry. You’re the one who made families all over Ardsley mourn. It’s not fair, and for that, I cannot give you my forgiveness.”
The wife of Jordan Wachtell said in her impact statement to the court: “The impact of Jordan’s untimely death has left me lost, devastated, and fearful for our future. I am now facing life alone without my co-parent, my life partner, my friend, my confidant, my biggest fan and the protector and sole wage earner of my family..On top of my own grief, it is heartbreaking to watch my children fear risk, fear loss, lose emotional energy, in short, be traumatized.”
The mother of Eric Goldberg said: “Eric was only 17 ½ when he was killed. He had his whole life ahead him. He had so many hopes and dreams for the future that I know he would have accomplished. All of this was taken away from him and us on January 30, 2020. Eric would be a sophomore in college now, and while most parents visit their children in college, I go to visit my son at the cemetery. There’s no sentence that could ever be given that would justify taking Eric’s life and Eric away from us.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/