Vineland man sentenced to 10 years in crash that killed Mainland teen
Updated: Jan 14
The man convicted in a fatal 2014 crash that killed a Linwood teen was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison Nicholas Garreffi, of Vineland, was found guilty of vehicular homicide and three counts of assault by auto in the Aug. 30, 2014 crash that killed Aisling Cooke and injured three of her friends. He got seven years for the death with three addition consecutive one-year sentences for the three girls who were injured. He must serve close to six years before he is eligible for parole. Cooke, 14, was an incoming freshman at Mainland Regional High School when she died four days after the crash. Monday, she would have been part of the school’s Senior Day. Deidre and Hugh Cooke stood together and the mother talked of the loss. “We can never visit her,” she said. “She is never coming home.”
Many talked of how Garreffi had shown no remorse. But when he got a chance to speak, he apologized, saying he had been wanting to talk to them since the crash happened. “I think about your daughter every day,” said the father of three. “And to the other girls in the car, I am so sorry. I’m a father. I’m not a monster.”
Garreffi had alprazolam — more commonly known as Xanax — in his system when he crossed the center lane of Route 40 in Hamilton Township, side-swiping a box truck and then crashing into the car with the teenage girls headed to a charity soccer tournament. Garreffi insisted Tuesday that he had not taken anything that morning and remembered everything that happened that day. He said he made the mistake of taking a pill not prescribed to him the night before. Eighteen months after the crash, he had another DUI charge. That is still pending. “Why didn’t you put the brakes on?” Cooke’s mother asked. “Why didn’t you turn the wheel?”
Madelyn Williscroft, who was driving the girls, did turn the wheel, trying to avoid the truck, according to testimony. It was her 18th birthday. "Maddie feels that she doesn't deserve to enjoy her life," her mother said as her daughter held her tight. "(She thinks) that perhaps it should have been her on that fateful day." Defense attorney Lou Barbone began the proceeding asking for a new trial, but that was denied by Judge John Rauh. Bail pending appeal was also denied. Barbone argued at trial that it was human error that sent Garreffi's truck into the path of the girls. The construction worker was distracted looking for a phone number to get in touch with a client, he said. After the sentencing, Barbone said he will file an appeal.