Truck Driver Who Killed Ellen Volpe Sentenced to Prison Term

Kristofer Gregorek to spend next 1.5 to 4 years in prison

Mike Baggerman
July 11, 2018 - 1:28 pm

Kristofer Gregorek (center) leaving Erie County Court on Tuesday (WBEN Photo/Mike Baggerman)

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) - Krisofer Gregorek, a Ballston Spa truck driver who frequently traveled to Western New York for work, was sentenced to 1 1/2 to four years in a state prison.

Gregorek, 28, was driving on I-90 on June 8 of last year when his truck struck and killed Ellen Volpe, a 44-year-old assistant professor at the University at Buffalo's nursing school. Investigators later discovered that Gregorek was on his cell phone at the time of the accident purchasing a video game and completing a survey.

"You are the latest symbol of distracted driving," Judge Christopher Burns said before sentencing Gregorek to his term. 

Gregorek plead guilty to Manslaughter in the Second Degree in February. He spoke prior to his sentencing and said he read the various victim impact statements, the first of which was from Volpe's widower, John McIntyre.

"This was the statement I was most afraid to read," Gregorek said in court. "One of the statements that took me the longest as well because since had to stop and clear my eyes of tears often while I was reading it. I learned the most prestigious title in the long list of accomplishments Ellen had was a mother of two children. Because of my decisions on June 8, she had far, far too little time with them."

The truck driver said he thought he was in control but was blind to the lives he put in danger by using his phone while driving. He said while he was driven back to his home in Saratoga County, he researched Ellen's name and realized the scope of the harm he did.

"I never wanted this kind of thing to happen again," Gregorek said. "I know I will never again be so careless but every day since June 8 I've been extremely aware of the drivers around me. I see so many people who are distracted by phones or radios or people in the car with them and I see that no one is doing better than I did."

Gregorek said that he plans to share with the world the result of his mistake and the pain Ellen's death caused. 

McIntyre spoke prior to the sentencing and reflected on how important his wife was to their family, calling Volpe the "rock" of the family.

"I believe it is important for Mr. Gregorek to have an opportunity to think about that at length being incarcerated," McIntyre said. "But mostly I want my wife's memory alive and I miss her and love her dearly."

A garden and a bench bearing the name of Ellen Volpe was created in Volpe's hometown of Rochester. The University at Buffalo also planted a tree in Volpe's honor.

Gregorek's defense attorney sought a probation sentence while Erie County District Attorney said that prosecutors wanted a prison term decided by Judge Burns. 

"Mr. Gregorek is not a criminal per se," Flynn said. "Obviously he did a criminal act on this day but he had no prior record...He was making a living bringing windows from the Ballston Spa area to here in Buffalo. But the fact of the matter is he was driving a 20,000 pound box truck full of windows and he's going 68 to 70 miles per hour on the thruway on his cell phone."

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