A 24-year-old Columbia man with a history of reckless driving and drug convictions was sentenced to five years in prison Monday for his part in a fatal accident last November that killed his best friend.
Alexander Camorali of the 5400 block of Half Flight Garth pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol after initially being charged with vehicular manslaughter.
After spending part of the night at a Baltimore go-go bar, Camorali was driving on Harpers Farm Road when his truck went out of control, smashed into a tree and knocked down a street light.
The truck came to rest on the other side of the road and Camorali fled, leaving longtime friend Roger Gene Bartrug II lying near the vehicle unconscious. The driver of another vehicle who witnessed the accident called 911 and Bartrug, who had been ejected from the truck, was taken by ambulance to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died a few days later.
When police reached Camorali that night, he initially told an investigator that he thought his truck had been stolen and that he had not seen Bartrug in over a year. Camorali later called back and told police what had really happened. Camorali, who was driving with a suspended license, was arrested.
Citing three prior convictions for drug possession as well as a number of citations for reckless driving, Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt admonished Camorali, saying that the accident was not "an isolated incident" and that leaving his friend of 10 years "is worse than just leaving the scene of an accident."
Looking directly at Camorali, Bartrug's mother, Katherine Olibeto, said tearfully, "If Roger was driving, he never would have left you." She added that she hoped incarceration would help Camorali "become the man Roger would have become."
Camorali, who is on suicide watch according to his lawyer, Timothy Knepp, apologized to Olibeto in court, as did Camorali's parents in the hallway outside the courtroom after sentencing.