Manslaughter charge filed in Hudson River crash
PIERMONT, N.Y. (AP) — The driver of a speedboat that slammed into a construction barge on the Hudson River — hurling a bride-to-be and her fiance’s best man into the water — has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, authorities said Saturday.
Jojo John, 35, of Nyack, was also charged with three counts of vehicular assault at his hospital bedside as he recovers from Friday night’s crash, Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Chief William Barbera said.
John’s bail was set at $250,000 and he will be transported to the Rockland County Jail after he is released from the hospital, Barbera said. John is suspected of operating the boat while intoxicated, according to Barbera.
Earlier Saturday, authorities pulled a woman’s body from the water that matches the description of 30-year-old Lindsey Stewart. The bride-to-be was hurled into the water after the accident near the Tappan Zee Bridge, about a half-hour’s drive north of New York City. Stewart, of Piermont, worked for an insurance company.
She was set to be married Aug. 10. Her fiance, art teacher Brian Bond, was among four others injured in the crash.
Rescuers are still trying to locate one other passenger, her fiance’s best man, 30-year-old Mark Lennon.
“The search has been suspended this evening and the tides have a lot to do with that,” Barbera said. “We’ll start again first thing in the morning.”
Officials were working to confirm that it was the body found earlier Saturday was Stewart’s.
The crash happened shortly after the boat, a 21-foot Stingray, left the village of Piermont for a short trip across the river to Tarrytown on Friday night, authorities said.
Authorities did not have further updates Saturday evening on the conditions of the four injured or the nature of their injuries.
Stewart’s mother, Carol, said earlier Saturday that she was praying for a miracle. Bond, 35, was knocked unconscious in the crash but later woke and was able to call 911, Carol Stewart said.
Lindsey Stewart’s stepfather, Walter Kosik, said the couple have known each other since they were young children and used to go to church together.
“They have been friends the whole time, and they fell in love about 3 ﾽ years ago,” Kosik said.
They were to be married at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pearl River, with a reception at a vineyard in Hillburn, he said.
Barbera declined to identify the other people aboard the boat. He said the barge, one of several loaded with construction material for an upcoming replacement of the bridge, was equipped with lights, but it was still difficult to see on the water late at night.
The New York State Thruway Authority, which is overseeing the bridge project, said it was reviewing safety procedures.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time,” the authority said in a statement. It added that the lighting on the barges appeared to be functioning normally.
Stewart’s former English teacher at Pearl River High School, who remained in contact with her through Facebook, called the accident “heartbreaking.”
“She was one of my students and a bright, sweet girl loved by everyone,” she said. “I knew that she was getting married, and to Brian. To happen to two such special kids — it just shouldn’t happen.”