Clifton Park businessman heads to prison for crash that left friend paralyzed

Mark Mulholland
Updated: November 27, 2019 06:26 PM
Created: November 27, 2019 05:53 PM

BALLSTON SPA - John Cole returned to the courtroom where he was sentenced more than 18 months ago.

The owner of the chain of collision centers had been free on bail pending appeal, but was there to surrender after all the appeals were exhausted.


A jury convicted Cole of assault, reckless driving, and DWAI for crashing his BMW into a tree at 78 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone. The crash critically injured his friend, Deanna Shapiro, who nearly three years after the crash is still left wondering.

"What set you off that night? What made you so enraged that you did it? Knowing that we were in the back seat," said Shapiro - who is confined to a wheelchair.

She expressed relief Wednesday afternoon that the 54-year-old Cole is now headed to prison.

He was sentenced to a determinant seven years, which means he'll have to serve at least six years. Cole, who has five prior felony convictions, wasn't given the opportunity to speak Wednesday, but at his May 2018 sentencing said,

"I just hope in time, we can all continue to heal."

Not the apology Deanna Shapiro was hoping for.

"And that was one thing that maybe would have made things feel better for me."

Paul Shectman, Cole's attorney, said his client is sorry.

"I think one of the things that hurts him here the most is that people somehow read him as remorseless and that's just not true."

However, Deanna Shapiro says if John Cole was truly remorseful, he'd apologize. After all, they were good friends.
"Yes, well I thought we were," said Shapiro.

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