After waiting more than five years for justice, the frustrated family of an 80-year-old doctor saw the man convicted of killing him sentenced to prison, Thursday.
Ariel Chmielarz, 62, got 12 years in Florida state prison with three years of probation, but he can serve as little as four years with credit for time served, including about five years in the Broward County Jail.
Dr. Arthur Knochenhauer was running in the 13.1 mile Michelob Ultra Fort Lauderdale Marathon when he was struck by a car in the 1700 block of East Las Olas Boulevard on Nov. 13, 2016.
Chmielarz was convicted of DUI manslaughter after the pandemic slowed the court proceedings.
Speaking at his sentencing hearing, Chmielarz sought the family’s forgiveness.
“I am truly sorry for the pain that I have caused you,” he said. “I know that your family sees me as a horrible person. I would like you to know that I really am a good person.”
The expression of remorse came too late for the victim’s son, Dr. Eric Knochenhauer.
“The problem is everybody’s nice to somebody, but you make decisions you’re held accountable for,” he said. “He went out and made a conscious decision to drive under the influence when he had done it before.”
Chmielarz had been arrested for a DUI about a year earlier but didn’t learn his lesson according to Broward Circuit Judge Bernard Bober.
“His prior arrest for DUI, which came a relatively short time before this incident, if anything, that should have been a wake-up call to him to stop drinking, stop abusing alcohol and change his life and not drive when he’s had alcohol,” said Bober, when handing down the sentence. “Instead, the incident occurred.”
The Knochenhauer family said the road to justice was too long and dealing with their loss will take longer still.
“It’s going to take a while for it all to sink in,” said widow Barbara Knochenhauer. "[Will the pain be] completely gone? No."