JOHNSTOWN - The driver of a car that crashed into a house in December, killing a front-seat passenger and badly injuring the deceased man's teenage sister, will spend at least two years in prison.
Justin M. VanNostrand, 20, of 186 Elmwood Ave., Gloversville, pleaded guilty this morning in Fulton County Court to second-degree manslaughter and third-degree reckless endangerment, both felonies.
VanNostrand was the driver of a car involved in the Dec. 4 crash at the intersection of Route 29 and Steele Avenue Extension in the town. The accident claimed the life of his friend, Christopher Insogna, 19 and seriously injured Insogna's sister, Kelsey R. Insogna, 17, who was riding in the back seat.
Justin VanNostrand, center, leaves the Fulton County Courthouse in Johnstown this morning after pleading guilty to two felony charges in connection with a fatal crash.
The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich
Under terms of a plea arrangement with the Fulton County district attorney's office, VanNostrand will receive concurrent prison terms of 2 1/3 to seven years when he is sentenced at 9 a.m. July 13 at the county courthouse.
VanNostrand faced a maximum of 15 years in prison if he had been convicted on the manslaughter count.
"You're going to have two felony convictions on your record as a result," Judge Polly A. Hoye told VanNostrand this morning during his plea.
VanNostrand said he understood what the judge was telling him.
His plea will have "serious consequences" on his future driving abilities, Hoye added.
The judge added that in addition to VanNostrand receiving prison time, there will be possible restitution costs, victim charges and possible medical expenses. Hoye said the court will have a better handle on those costs by sentencing.
VanNostrand remains free on $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.
Members of VanNostrand's family and the Insognas' family declined comment after his plea.
VanNostrand was represented by Gloversville attorney Anthony Casale, who declined comment.
Assistant District Attorney Chad Brown prosecuted the case, and couldn't be reached for comment after the plea procedure because he was behind closed doors with several members of the Insogna family.
Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said VanNostrand was driving a 2000 Ford Mustang at a high rate of speed southbound on Steele Avenue Extension at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 4.
VanNostrand failed to stop at the stop sign at Route 29, crossed the highway and slammed into the embankment in front of 2151 Route 29, Lorey said. The car then smashed into a parked truck, flipped over it and came to rest on its front bumper between the truck and the house, Lorey said.
Insogna was trapped in the car and pronounced dead by Fulton County Coroner Margaret Luck. Kelsey, who was thrown from the vehicle, and VanNostrand both were airlifted to Albany Medical Center.
In addition to the manslaughter and reckless endangerment charges, a grand jury indictment unsealed March 8 also charged VanNostrand with assault and reckless driving.
The indictment said VanNostrand "caused the death of" Insogna by driving "in a reckless manner." The indictment also said VanNostrand "did recklessly cause serious physical injury" to Kelsey Insogna by operating the Mustang as a "deadly weapon or dangerous instrument."
"This crash was senseless and tragic," District Attorney Louise Sira said after the indictment. "My heart goes out to the Insogna family and all that they have been through and continue to go through."
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.