It was supposed to be a joyful afternoon of riding bikes and spending time with friends.

But instead, it turned out to be a day of tragedy and immense heartbreak when a boat broke loose from the SUV towing it along Hylan Boulevard in Bay Terrace on Sept. 14, 2015, and slammed into Alexa Cioffi, 21, fatally injuring her and badly injuring Briana Emanuele, her best friend, who was cycling with her.

"For the longest time, I blamed myself for this terrible crime I did not commit," Emanuele, 24, said Wednesday fighting back tears in a courtroom packed with Cioffi's sobbing family and friends. "I wished it was me instead of Alexa. She did not deserve this."

"I feel so terrible, survivor's guilt," Emanuele continued, as the defendant, Michael Khmil, who pleaded guilty in September to criminally negligent homicide stood with his head bowed at the defense table in state Supreme Court. St. George. "It's an unimaginable pain. I struggle every day. The thing that kills me the most is that we were just riding bikes to meet our friends and have a fun day at the park."

Moments before Khmil, 44, was sentenced to 60 days in jail and five years' probation under a plea agreement, Dawn Bartkowski, a longtime friend of Cioffi's family, spoke of the immeasurable sorrow and loss those who knew the late Eltingville resident struggle with every day.

Michael Khmil was sentenced to 60 days in jail, 5 years probation.


"Grief, as we have all heard, comes in waves. Her family says that's a lie," said Bartkowski, who said she was like a second mother to the victim. "These aren't waves; they are tsunamis or gargantuan freight trains that ram into your very soul from nowhere. ... It feels as if someone has sucked out everything you have - your guts, your heart, your oxygen, your entire being.

"And you never know when that tsunami or train will hit you again, and you live in fear of that."