Survivor of alleged drunk driving crash speaks after driver pulls out of guilty plea

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Two survivors of a serious crash in Mayfield caused by an alleged drunk driver will have to wait even longer for their case to be resolved.

Monday Michael Telfer, the Gloversville man accused of causing the crash, backed out of his plea deal as he was scheduled to be sentenced, according to Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Kate Ehrlich.

Brandon Lehr, who’s a Gloversville fire captain, and his girlfriend Rachel Ortega, were on a motorcycle when Telfer hit them. NewsChannel 13 has shown you Lehr and Ortega as they recovered from dozens of life-altering injuries. He and Ortega say they have wanted to help Telfer to get his life back on track, and nothing more in court.

But he says Monday was emotional and feels like a setback.

“Our role at this point is only going to be to testify and sit and wait,” Lehr said Monday.

They learned their journey will be even longer as Telfer withdrew his guilty plea. The case will now have to go before a grand jury.

“It’s tough because we just want it to be over. It’s been dragged out enough as far as we’re concerned. Each time this stuff resurfaces, it’s even more emotional for us,” Lehr said.

Even after all the emotions he and Ortega have been through, they say they started this journey in court only wanting to help Telfer get the help he needed and get on the right path.

“We asked him to go for a lesser plea deal, because we didn’t want to ruin his family, we didn’t want to take him away from his children, we just wanted him to get rehabilitated,” he said.

Lehr still refers to Telfer as a ‘friend,’ but he says Monday’s action changes things.

“One would assume that if you almost killed two of your friends that you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it right, and go in a more positive direction, and unfortunately that’s not the choice that he made,” Lehr said.

Lehr says Monday’s vacated plea deal makes it harder for him to see the silver lining in the tragic crash.

“Our lives are changed because of the injuries that we have, but the silver lining was that, hey, maybe this is going to create a better person in Mike,” he said. “We just want to be in a position where we can get past it and start leading our lives normally again, and not have this be a constant reminder.”

He says despite the setback, he and Rachel do not take a day with their kids and their family for granted—knowing now that tomorrow is not promised.

The case will now go to a Grand Jury for a decision on an indictment.