Nyack Man charged with vehicular manslaughter in Hudson River Boating Accident

The nuptials were set for this coming Saturday in Pearl River in the same Church where their wedding service was to be held. But instead of exchanging vows, Brian Bond observed as Lindsey Stewart’s dark colored casket was taken off the altar and placed into a waiting hearse after the ceremony at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church just a few weeks before the two were to be wed.

During the service, the Rev. John Havrilla urged the attendees to pray for the families of “two beautiful young people whose lives were filled with hope and dreams, and that has been snuffed away.”

The Rockland County Sheriff’s Department is still investigating the accident where a 21-foot Stingray speedboat, out for a night of fun, collided with a construction barge that was secured on the Hudson River carrying construction materials for the $3.9 billion project to build a new Tappan Zee Bridge. Bond and Stewart were thrown upon impact and their bodies were found on separate days during the search for the two missing passengers. The barge was one of many that were moored for the project. In addition to carrying his 30-yearl old wife-to-be, the boat was also packed with most of their wedding party.

Stewart’s mother, Carol Stewart Kosik, told a crowd of nearly 200 people that “Next Saturday I was supposed to be sitting there and Lindsey was supposed to be up here,” as she mourned the death of her daughter after the ceremony. The July 26 late-night collision also was responsible for the death of Mark Lennon, who was to be the best man.

One of the friends, 35-year-old Jojo John of Nyack was driving the boat when the collision transpired. Sheriff’s Department Chief William Barbera said that John, of Nyack was charged with vehicular manslaughter and three counts of vehicular assault. The Chief suggested that there was probable cause to believe the driver may have been operating the vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and may face further charges. John was also injured and hospitalized along with the three remaining occupants of the boat. He was arraigned in his Nyack Hospital bed.

All of the victims’ families were quick to submit to investigators that the passengers on the boat “had consumed very little alcohol and considered themselves sober.” Stewart’s and Lennon’s families also said in the statement, “Compounding our agony is the rush, by some, to cast blame on or even malign the victims.”

All of the occupants of the boat have stated to police that there were no lights displayed on the barge and no one saw it before the boat crashed into it. The families of the victims publicly requested that any Hudson River boaters who may have been in the area to submit to authorities any information they may have in regard to the barges in that area, describing if they were properly lit. John’s attorney said he was also conducting an independent investigation and asked boaters and witnesses to contact him at tzbarge@gmail.com, a mailbox that was set up for research regarding this case.

The NY State Thruway Authority and the Coast Guard, has maintained that the barge was properly lit. However, additional lighting was added after the crash.

Unfortunately, Mr. John’s previous record may weigh against him.

According to the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department Mr. John has a history of drug arrests and was previously sentenced to community service and probation. He was charged with drug possession in 2009 and drug-related conspiracy in 2010.

But Sheryl Palacio, 35, of Valley Cottage, N.Y., a friend of both John and Brian Bond defended him saying he “would never, ever want to put his friends in danger.” Ms. Palacio assisted in the search effort. She went on to describe John as a “jovial, loving person.”

Laws fluctuate greatly on the quantity of jail time a driver of any type of motor vehicle who is responsible for the death of another individual can receive. Most states have laws specifying penalties for individuals who kill another person.

In New York, vehicular manslaughter in the 1st degree is a Class C felony punishable by not more than 15 years and/or not more than a fine of $15,000.

Vehicular manslaughter in the 2nd degree which is a Class D felony is punishable by not more than 7 years of incarceration and/or not more than a fine of $5,000. Vehicular assault convictions can also lead to restricted driving privileges, heavy fines as well as severe jail sentences.

If you, a friend or family member is accused of vehicular manslaughter or vehicular assault it is imperative that you secure a knowledgeable defense attorney who can protect your rights under the law.

Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer who has tried a multitude of cases throughout his 35 year career. He has offices in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida as well as New York City and is a member in good standing of both the New York and Florida Bars. He is also admitted to practice law in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York and the Eleventh Circuit which includes the State of Florida.

If you require a criminal defense attorney in the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, or West Palm Beach area, Mr. Cohen’s office can provide you with the skilled representation you need.

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