Limo driver charged in Cutchogue crash that killed 4 young women

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RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — The limousine driver involved in a deadly 2015 collision in Cutchogue that took the lives of four young women was indicted Wednesday.

Carlos F. Pino, 58, faces 16 counts that include criminally negligent homicide, assault, reckless driving and other traffic violations, according to District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“A perfectly sober Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash,” DA Thomas Spota said.

Eight young women were returning from a wine tasting in Cutchogue last July when a truck broadsided their limousine.  At the time of the accident, the limousine driver, 58-year-old Carlos F. Pino, was trying to make a U-turn.

“Despite the fact that the main westbound travel lanes were not visible, the limo driver, Carlos Pino, failed to take any precaution or any action to make sure he could safely enter the westbound travel lanes and he continued to make the U-turn,” Spota said.  “There is no evidence that demonstrates he (Pino) ever came to a stop.”

Brittany Schulman, 23; Stephanie Belli, 23; Amy Grabina, 23; and Lauren Baruch, 24.

The truck driver, 55-year-old Steven Romeo, was charged with driving while intoxicated despite being below the legal blood-alcohol limit at the time he was tested.

Spota said authorities took blood samples an hour and  40 minutes after the crash, and Romeo’s blood alcohol content was .066. A BAC of .08 or higher would be considered “driving while intoxicated” in New York state.  However, Spota said at the time of the crash, his BAC would “likely have been over .08,” and the original charge stood.

Romeo, who was driving 55 miles per hour, was just 200 feet away from the limo by the time it was visible to him, leaving him just 1.6 seconds to see the vehicle, decide what to do and begin braking, experts said.

“A perfectly sober Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash.  An intoxicated Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash.  Romeo can be held criminally responsible for driving while intoxicated but he cannot be held criminally responsible for the crash,” Spota said.

The crash took the lives of Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, both of Smithtown, Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park, and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack.  Several others were badly hurt in the accident.

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