David Belniak says he can not purge Christmas Day 2007 from his memory. That's the day he slammed his pick-up truck into the back on an SUV.
Three people inside the Chevy Tahoe, Gerard and Denise Bassi and Linda McWilliams, were killed.
Last year, he pleaded guilty to three counts of DUI manslaughter. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
In the four-plus years since the accident, a lot has happened. The Tahoe's driver, Ray McWilliams died. Belniak filed a lawsuit. Despite his guilty plea and long prison sentence, Belniak now claims the crash was McWilliams' fault.
Friday, he faced members of both families from the witness stand.
"I don't know what I could have done differently, I really, really don't," he testifed.
Belnaik now claims McWilliams pulled in front of him. He claimed McWilliams was in the left turn lane on northbound U.S. 19 in Hudson. As he approached the traffic signal, he says McWilliams began to move into his lane.
"It was unavoidable. There was absolutely nothing I could have done," he said.
According to a Florida Highway Patrol investigation, the Tahoe was in the left lane along with Belniak. Troopers say Belniak rear-ended McWillams going at least 75 miles per hour.
The investigation also determined Belniak had traces of alcohol and drugs in his system. When the family's attorney Maureen Deskins asked Belniak about being impaired, he responded "I cannot deny that."
Nonetheless, Belniak insisted he was not at fault. He says he tried to avoid the crash.
"I believe I did swerve, but it was within feet of the Tahoe. I did get the wheel turned, just not enough to make any deviation from my route, my lane of travel."
Jurors ask questions of their own. One juror asked "do you accept responsibility for the crash?"
He answered "...I did accept responsibility criminally, I think of that question and probably will for the rest of my life."
He is expected to be back on the witness stand Monday to explain why he should be compensated for his pain and suffering.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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