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Guilford man sentenced to 15 years in prison for DUI crash that killed Meriden woman

Court documents revealed Nicholas Fairchild's blood alcohol level was 3-times the legal limit, and cocaine and marijuana were in his system at the time of the crash.

MERIDEN, Conn — A man who pleaded guilty several months ago to multiple charges, including manslaughter with a motor vehicle, learned his fate Tuesday at sentencing.

Nicholas Fairchild, 26, of Guilford was sentenced to 15 years in prison for killing a woman in a crash back in July of 2020. Fairchild was driving under the influence.

According to officials, it's not his first felony conviction related to operating a motor vehicle.

RELATED: Meriden woman killed in Wallingford collision

58-year-old Karen Gabriel, of Meriden and several family members were headed back home after grocery shopping and picking up a pizza, when their worlds changed in an instant on July 28, 2020.

During Fairchild's sentencing, the victim's family spoke about the impact of their loss.

"She was more than anyone else, my best friend," Karen's son, Matthew Iannarone said.

Her son was one of three passengers seriously injured in the car his mother was driving, and despite the chaos of the crash, he said he remembers something very vividly.

"Even at the scene of the accident, she spent her final breaths consoling Jonathan [Murphy] and reassuring him that everything was going to be OK," Iannarone added.

Jonathan Murphy was Karen's front seat passenger. He is also engaged to her daughter.

"I wake up in the middle of the night with fear in my heart," Murphy said outside of Meriden Superior Court with tears in his eyes. "That last moment of her saying 'it’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK,' and for two seconds I sigh and I’m like 'oh man she’s here' and then I realize 'oh man she’s not there anymore.'"

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At the time of the crash, Fairchild’s blood alcohol level was three-times the legal limit, and he had cocaine and marijuana in his system, according to court records.

"If it is possible to die of grief or of a broken heart, then Nicholas Fairchild has in fact killed me too," Mark Gabriel, Karen's husband of 18 years, said.

Accident reconstruction results revealed Fairchild never applied his brakes and may have broadsided Gabriel’s car, while traveling at nearly 60 miles per hour. That would be twice the speed limit for the N. Main St. extension and Route 68 intersection in Wallingford.

"The worst was having to sit there with my 6-year-old and tell her that her grandma was not coming back home," Karen's daughter, Mary Iannarone said.

That's the same grandma that surprised her kids and granddaughter with a trip to Disney the year before her she was killed.

"If people are going to drink and drive, don’t do it," Murphy pleaded. "Just take an Uber. Call a friend. Take a nap. Don’t do it. Please!"

Court records also show Fairchild was a convicted felon even before this crash. He pleaded guilty to second-degree assault motor vehicle several years ago and has violated his probation three times since. 

RELATED: Wallingford man arrested on DUI charges after I-91 wrong way crash

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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