NEW YORK (PIX11) – The driver behind the wheel of a speedboat that crashed along the Hudson River, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance’s best man, now faces 18 counts in an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The driver, 35-year-old Jojo John, had a blood-alcohol level of .15 at the time, nearly twice the legal limit, according to the Rockland County DA.
In the aftermath of the crash the victims’ families released a statement, saying that John — or any possible alcohol use — weren’t solely responsible.
The families of Stewart and Lennon stated their families were shattered by the horrible accident but pointed to the construction barge and what they have called inadequate lighting.
After talking to survivors, the families claimed the passengers on the boat, “all mature, respected professionals in their thirties,” had consumed very little alcohol and considered themselves sober.
They also claim none of them saw the barge or braced for impact and could not identify what they had hit — even after impact.
John was at the helm of a 19-foot Stingray powerboat July 26 when the boat slammed into a construction barge, launching Lindsey Stewart and Mark Lennon into the water. Both Stewart and Lennon died.
John, along with three others, suffered serious injuries. He was later arrested at Nyack Hospital.
District Attorney Zugibe said, “Drinking and driving is a lethal mix, as it appears to have been in this incident, which left several families shattered. My office will aggressively prosecute this case to ensure that justice is done.”
John’s attorney David Narain told PIX11 News that the defense had ‘substantial evidence’ — both physical and testimonial — that the “cause of this tragic accident was the poorly and inadequately lit group of barges struck by Jojo John’s boat.”
Narain added that he looks forward to challenging the toxicology results, which he also disputes.
John faces 15 years in prison if he is convicted on the charges, which include vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault and operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.