WARSAW, N.Y. (WIVB) — Tyler Jennings and Chad Staley will spend the next five years on probation for their roles in the deaths of 6-year-old Preston Giangregorio and 9-year-old Dylan Giangregorio.
The two men pleaded guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide in February. They were facing up to four years behind bars.
Judge Michael Mohun of Wyoming County Court indicated he felt Staley did everything the court asked him to do following his plea. The opposite was said of Jennings, whom Mohun told to “straighten up.” The judge noted Jennings failed drug tests and missed counseling appointments following his plea.
Jennings was the uncle to the two boys, who were brothers. Staley was a family friend.
The sentencing follows a five month long investigation of a June 2016 incident at Letchworth State Park.
Jennings and Staley were with a group of five children, ages five to twelve.
While other adults went to set up a picnic, the men led the children to a restricted area of the park; in the water directly above the Lower Falls.
A strong current caused the group to lose their footing and fall 70 feet over the waterfall.
It took State Parks Police a couple of days to locate the bodies of the boys.
Both men apologized to the families during sentencing.
“I my nephews faces in my sleep. I hear their last words every day of my life,” Jennings said in court.
The boys’ families requested the most lenient sentence from the court.
Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen said this case was never about jail time. He called the incident an “avoidable tragedy” and said he hopes it will remind adults the importance of following the rules.
“If these two individuals would have followed the rules and followed the signs that were clearly marked on the trails inside the Letchworth State Park, none of these children, included the ones that were injured, would have been injured or deceased,” O’Geen said following sentencing.
“I’m going to live with it for the rest of my life, and I pay for it on a daily basis and I do apologize for what happened,” Chad Staley told Judge Mohun.
The men will answer to their local counties to complete their probation sentence.