(NECN, Siobhan Connolly, Uxbridge, Mass.) - Robert Grenier, 47, of North Smithfield, R.I., was arraigned in Uxbridge District Court on Friday. Prosecutors say he was the driver in a single-car crash that killed his girlfriend, Patty Gurka, also 47, in Douglas, Mass.
Grenier faces multiple charges including being under the influence of alcohol and vehicular homicide.
Gurka's family came straight from her funeral to the courtroom.
“Very tough to deal with,” said Timothy Gilmore, an attorney representing Gurka’s family. “Even some of the most seasoned lawyers here in the building today were really moved by the family and seeing all the emotion present in the courtroom.”
Gurka’s four children and two grandchildren were in court Friday.
The prosecution read off Grenier's charges He has a prior operating under the influence offense this year and has an open case of domestic violence against Gurka.
Police say the car hit a utility pole going 90-mph in a 45-mph zone in Douglas around 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Gurka was pronounced dead at a Worcester Hospital Grenier suffered minor injuries. Police say he appeared highly intoxicated at the scene and tried to mislead investigators.
“His first words spoken were, ‘She was driving,’” said Anthony Melia, Southern Worcester County assistant district attorney.
Grenier and Gurka were driving home from a concert in Webster, Mass. The family's attorney says they may pursue a civil case after the criminal proceedings are finished.
“A tragic set of circumstances, hopefully this is a lesson for people to not mix alcohol and driving because of the catastrophic ramifications,” Gilmore said.
As for Grenier, he is being held without bail because he violated probation on his previous charges.