Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park was one of the four killed in the crash. Photo / Facebook
A 55-year-old Long Island man pleaded not guilty yesterday to driving
while intoxicated after his pickup truck crashed into a limousine
carrying eight young women, killing four, law enforcement officials
The group – friends since high school now in their 20s – was returning from a nearby winery on Long Island’s East End on Sunday.
driver was trying to make a U-turn at an intersection along Route 48 on
Long Island’s North Shore when the pickup slammed into the limo,
In the mangled metal and glass wreckage, four of the women survived and were hospitalised, along with both drivers.
pick-up driver, Steven Romeo, was arraigned at his hospital bedside at
Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport on one misdemeanor charge of
driving while intoxicated and ordered held on US$500,000 cash bail or
US$1 million bond.
He is to appear in court at the end of the week.
His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.
Martin Flatley of Southold, Long Island, identified the dead as
Brittany M. Schulman, 23, of Smithtown, on Long Island’s North Shore;
Lauren Baruch, 24, also of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of nearby
Kings Park; and Amy R. Grabina, 23, of Commack, also on the North Shore.
Lauren Baruch of Overland Park Kansas. Photo / Facebook
Amy Grabina of Tallahassee, Florida Photo / Facebook
“As a family, we’re obviously devastated by the loss of my
daughter,” said Steven Baruch, his voice choking up at times as he spoke
by phone about his daughter, Lauren Baruch.
He said the young
women had been friends for years, as far back as high school, and they
had taken this kind of winery tour before.
“She was in the wrong
place at the wrong time,” he said of his daughter. “We loved her more
than anything. Now I’ve got to bury my daughter.”
Injured survivors include the driver of the limousine, Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage, Long Island, and four young women.
police chief identified them as Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood, Long
Island; Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale, in Westchester County
north of New York City; Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket, Long Island;
and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn, New York.
The driver of the pic-kup hit the brakes before the crash but could not stop in time, Flatley said.
The chief said Romeo ran from the crash scene, but was caught and arrested.
Romeo is a co-owner of Romeo Dimon Marine Services in Southold, Long Island.
police chief said the crash was “one of the worst accidents I’ve ever
seen.” The Suffolk County district attorney planned a news conference
Monday to brief reporters on the ongoing investigation.