Boat driver get two years jail in NY crash that killed bride, best man

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2014 1:50 PM

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A speedboat driver in the 2013 crash that killed a bride-to-be and a best man on New York's Hudson River was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in jail after a plea deal to avoid prison time, prosecutors said.

The sentence was handed down several months after Jojo John, 36, pleaded guilty in June to two counts of manslaughter.

John had initially faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in state prison for multiple crimes including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

At the time of his arrest on July 26, 2013, for smashing the 19-foot Stingray power boat, carrying six, into a barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge, he had a blood alcohol level of twice the legal limit and traces of cocaine in his system, prosecutors said.

Killed in the crash were Lindsey Stewart, 30, a bride to be, and Mark Lennon, 30, her intended groom's best man.

“The defendant’s reckless decision to drive a speedboat while under the influence of alcohol and drugs tragically caused the untimely deaths of two innocent people," Rockland County District Attorney Zugibe said after the sentencing in Rockland County Court, in New City, about 30 miles north of Manhattan.

"He has now been held accountable for his crimes and will serve two years in jail, giving him time to reflect on his thoughtless actions," the prosecutor said in a statement.

John's attorney, David Narain, was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday. Narain has argued that limited visibility led to the crash at about 10:30 p.m. on July 26, 2013, following a pre-wedding celebration.

At his sentencing, John expressed remorse for the crash, which also seriously injured multiple passengers, including Stewart's fiance, Brian Bond, local media reported.

The couple grew up in the New York suburbs and had been friends since childhood, attending the same church in the town of Pearl River, several miles west of the Hudson, according to a report by News 12 Westchester television report in the months following the crash.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Doina Chiacu)