A part-time Bridgehampton resident who pleaded guilty in August to crashing his car while drunk two years ago and leaving his passenger to die on the side of the road was sentenced last week to three to nine years in state prison.
Prior to sentencing, Sean Ludwick, 45, apologized to the family of 53-year-old Paul Hansen, a Sag Harbor resident, in State Supreme Court in Islip on Wednesday, October 18. But he also listened to withering statements from members of Mr. Hansen’s family, and from the judge who oversaw the case.
“It was a crime for you to be a coward and a hard human being,” Justice Fernando Camacho told Mr. Ludwick.
Shortly after that statement, Mr. Ludwick was sentenced to three to nine years for the vehicular homicide charge, one to three years for leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and one year on the aggravated DWI charge, as expected under the terms of his plea agreement. The sentences will be served concurrently.
Justice Camacho gave family members a chance to address Mr. Ludwick in court before the sentencing.
Bob Hansen, the victim’s older brother, spoke first and told Mr. Ludwick that if his brother was alive today, his most important role would be as a father to his two sons, Austin and Hunter, who were in the courtroom. But he was taken too soon, Mr. Hansen said, adding, “The circumstances of his death were far from ordinary.”
Paul Hansen’s son, Austin, was hosting a sleepover at his Sag Harbor home on the night of the accident, August 30, 2015—with Mr. Ludwick’s son in attendance. Still, Bob Hansen pointed out that most of his brother’s friends didn’t even know the man who left his “so-called friend” lying, fatally injured, on the side of the road in Sag Harbor after an accident.
Susan Hansen Morrissey, Mr. Hansen’s twin sister, made a point of stressing that, despite some news reports that suggested Mr. Ludwick and Mr. Hansen were friends, she said Mr. Ludwick was not her brother’s “buddy, nor friend, nor pal.”
“You’re a coward,” she told Mr. Ludwick. “You don’t have a compassionate bone in your body.”
Catherine Hansen, Austin and Hunter’s mother and the victim’s wife, also spoke to Mr. Ludwick, saying that when the police came to pick up his son, Austin and Hunter both shook hands with the young man and wished him well.
Ms. Hansen said her sons have several strong men to help guide them through life—and she only hopes that Mr. Ludwick’s son has the same.
“You fled, lied, and showed no concern for anyone but yourself,” she told Mr. Ludwick. “Even your son was of no concern to you.”
She then told Mr. Ludwick that his actions were cowardly and selfish.
Ms. Hansen Morrissey noted Mr. Ludwick’s attempt to run from the situation he caused, both on the night of the accident and later.
Police said they found Mr. Ludwick standing near his damaged 2013 Porsche convertible, on Woodvale Street, more than a block away from the scene of the accident, which occurred on Rolling Hill Court East at approximately 2 a.m. that night. Mr. Ludwick had driven into a utility pole and left Mr. Hansen on the roadside, police said, and they had traced him to his severely damaged vehicle by the fluid trail. Mr. Ludwick refused to answer any questions and immediately asked for his lawyer, and declined to submit to a blood test voluntarily.
Then, after being charged, he had been discovered conducting internet searches for how to live as a fugitive in another country, and even vacationing in Puerto Rico and attempting to purchase a boat from an undercover FBI agent.
“Your lawyer stated that you are not a flight risk. That’s a lie,” she said. “You were seeking asylum outside of the United States.”
After listening to the statements, Mr. Ludwick spoke to the family and said he takes full responsibility for Mr. Hansen’s death. “The circumstance was very shocking,” he said. “I will try to better myself.
“I’m very, very sorry,” he added, before offering his “humblest apology.”
Justice Camacho told Mr. Ludwick that he hoped he was sincere, noting the outpouring of letters from the family were heartbreaking.
“What a great man Paul Hansen was,” Justice Camacho said. “There will never be such an outpouring for Sean Ludwick.”
Assistant District Attorney Ray Varuolo asked Justice Camacho for a longer sentence of between five and 15 years, and while Justice Camacho said he would have liked to be able to sentence Mr. Ludwick to a longer sentence—even life—for the crime he committed, he was bound by the law.
“The longest they can keep him is six [years],” Mr. Ludwick’s attorney, William Keahon, said outside of the courtroom last week. “Any sentence, two-tosix, the most they can keep you is four. Three-to-nine, the most they can keep you is six.”
The older Mr. Hansen said a civil lawsuit against Mr. Ludwick is almost ready to be filed, though he declined to say more about it.
Ms. Hansen Morrissey told Mr. Ludwick in court that when he gets out of prison, he should choose to live somewhere other than Sag Harbor.
Mr. Hansen told Mr. Ludwick that he hopes he changes.
“I’m an optimist, and I hope during incarceration, you’ll find a way to be a better human being,” he said.