Endymion parade DWI driver faces felony sentencing Friday

Published: Jan. 12, 2018 at 3:09 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2018 at 5:49 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A victim of the Endymion parade crash last year said she cannot bring herself to go to court when the man responsible is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

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"Going to the last trial, I actually got sick," victim Faye Thomas-Bertrand said. "I was sick for about a week and a half, and I don't want to endure that."

Thomas-Bertrand and her son were two of the 28 victims when then-25-year-old Neilson Rizzuto crashed his car into a crowd of people at the intersection of Carrollton Avenue and Orleans Avenue on Feb. 28.

Rizzuto registered a .232 blood alcohol, nearly three times the legal limit.

"Somebody could have easily died. Victims are still having surgeries as a result of this," Bertrand said.

"He's been in jail a year. I think he's learn a lot," Rizzuto's attorney Nanak Rai said. "There's not a day that goes by that he doesn't think about what happened and what went on and how he affected people."

Rai said his client is remorseful for the pain and damages he's caused.

Rizzuto faces zero to five years in jail for his 11 felony counts of first-degree negligent vehicular injury that will likely run concurrently.

"All I'm trying to do is present what people would say is mitigating factors as far as things that are going in his favor as such as not having been involved in any other criminal activity, having gone to school, going to high school, had gone to college for a year and someone that has been working and laying on the leg of society," Rai said.

Bertrand believes the judge should hand Rizzuto the strictest sentence possible.

"He needs to get help, license revoked, work with some kind of group, definitely with Mother's Against Drunk Driver," Bertrand said.

As a part of his sentencing, the judge could require Rizzuto to pay restitution to victims for medical expenses.

In September, Rizzuto plead guilty to 14 misdemeanor counts of negligent vehicular injury.

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