NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — The families of three women killed by a wrong way drunk driver were in court for his sentencing today, where he received 30 years in prison, suspended after he serves 14 years.
Melissa Prato, who lost her mother and grandmother in the December 2012 crash, said outside of New London Superior court, “I had to tell each child individually what happened and it was the hardest thing.”
Prato was on the phone with her mother, 63-year-old Barbara Prato when the horrible accident happened. Barbara Prato and her mother, 90-year-old Marjorie Minore were with their friend, 71-year-old Tamara Nolin, on I-95 in Old Lyme when Frank Sundstrom drove drunk northbound in the southbound lane of the highway.
The Rhode Island man hit them head-on. Nolin’s Nissan Altima was ruined beyond recognition. Her niece, Tara Nolin Barros, faced the same dilemma as Melissa Prato relaying the tragedy to her children as well.
Tara Nolin Barros, the niece of Tamara Nolin, says, “My youngest child is very close to Tammy. They had a very close relationship and he was just dumbfounded by the concept that an adult could get in the car knowing that they were impaired and then kill three people and only get 14 years, which we know he won’t serve all of.”
Three wonderful women: grandmothers, wives, mothers, aunts, and pioneers. Both Prato and Nolin worked together in the major league baseball’s minor league system in Connecticut for more than 20 years.
At times Sundstrom, who will serve 14 of a 30-year sentence, wept. His family did not speak inside or outside court. He, too, has faced tragedy, with the loss of his two sons to illness. He made a tearful apology Nolin Barros could not accept.
She says, “There’s obviously an issue in our correction system that we let people out of jail way sooner that they deserve and I’m sure that that will be the case in this case too. He won’t serve 14 years, which is a tragedy all over again.”
Melissa Prato challenged Sundstrom to serve the full 30 years if he really wanted to take full responsibility. She says she will speak about the effects of drunken driving alongside him once he gets out.
“I think since the court system has made a mockery out of this. I truly believe that maybe that will make a difference. If he is the man that he claims that he is, then stand next to me and let’s not just speak to DUI crashes that happen around prom season, but often,” says Prato.