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Boat driver in deadly Hudson River crash indicted

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 12:58 PM EST, Sun November 10, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Boat driver JoJo John indicted in Hudson River crash that killed bride-to-be, fiance's best man
  • John, 35, was drunk when his boat hit barges, indictment says
  • The accident was the result of inadequate lighting on the barges, John's attorneys say

(CNN) -- The man accused of killing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man when he drove the boat they were passengers on into a barge on the Hudson River was charged in an 18-count indictment unsealed Thursday.

JoJo John, 35, is facing two counts of first-degree vehicular manslaughter, four counts of second-degree vehicular manslaughter, two counts of second-degree manslaughter, two counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of first-degree vehicular assault, four counts of second-degree vehicular assault and two counts of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"The defendant is accused of taking the helm of his boat while under the influence of alcohol, being unable to maintain situational awareness and striking a construction barge," Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. 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 was piloting a 19-foot Stingray powerboat around 10:40 p.m. on July 26 when it slammed into one of three construction barges strapped together near the Tappan Zee Bridge, 25 miles north of Manhattan, hurling Lindsey Stewart and Mark Lennon into the river, resulting in their deaths, according to the indictment.

John and three others, including groom-to-be Brian Bond, were injured.

Stewart and Bond were to be married two weeks later, according to family, with Lennon as best man.

According to the indictment, John's blood alcohol level was found to be 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, and "cocaine metabolites" were found in his system.

But John's attorney, David Narain, said the real cause of the disastrous collision was the result of insufficient lighting on the barges.

"The defense investigation has uncovered substantial evidence, including physical evidence and the testimony of numerous witnesses, that the cause of this tragic accident was the poorly and inadequately lit group of barges struck by JoJo John's boat," Narain said in a statement.

"We dispute the toxicology reports and look forward to challenging those findings," he added.

James Mercante, who is representing John in civil matters, agreed: "A boater should be able to cross a navigable waterway, impaired or not, without intrusion. The barges unduly interfered with that transit."

John was arrested while recovering at Nyack Hospital, court documents said, and an arraignment is pending.

Authorities want answers in boating accident

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