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Driver charged with vehicular manslaughter after Hudson River boat crash

 

Authorities announced Saturday that the driver of a speedboat that hit a construction barge on the Hudson River, throwing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man into the river, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, and that a woman's body has been pulled from the water.

Officials were working to confirm that it was the body of 30-year-old Lindsey Stewart, who has been missing since the Friday night accident, but they said it appeared to fit her description.

In a press conference held Saturday afternoon, authorities also stated that the driver of the speedboat has been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Rockland County Sheriff's Department Chief William Barbera said in the press conference that 35-year-old Jojo John of Nyack was also charged with vehicular assault. Barbera says John may have operating the boat while intoxicated.

The search for the missing man, 30-year-old Mark Lennon, was continuing, said Rockland County undersheriff Robert VanCura.

The recovered body did not have a life jacket and was recovered about an eighth of a mile from shore by a marine unit searching the area.

Four other passengers, including the groom-to-be, were injured in the accident.

Carol Stewart, Lindsey's mother, said earlier Saturday that they were praying for a miracle.

"It can't end like this," Stewart told WABC-TV as she waited on shore. The wedding is scheduled for Aug. 10.

Rescuers searched for the missing boaters for several hours overnight before suspending the hunt. They resumed the search at about 9:30 Saturday morning. Rockland County Sheriff's Department Chief William Barbera told Fox News there are numerous agencies in the water using sonar, radar and divers.

Stewart's fiance has been identified as Brian Bond. The 35-year-old art teacher was knocked unconscious in the crash, but later woke and was able to call 911.

An official says the six were on a 21-foot Stingray near Piermont when it hit the barge Friday night. Robert Van Cura with the Rockland County Sheriff's office said at least two of the four other passengers were wearing life jackets. The friends were making a short trip across the river to Tarrytown, about a half-hour's drive north of New York City, authorities said.

Van Cura said authorities are not sure if alcohol was involved. He also declined to identify any of the victims and said most victims had head injuries and were expected to recovered.

George Drescher with Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services tells the Journal News that one person was unconscious, one had a broken arm and the other two had minor injuries.

Drescher said the barge, one of several loaded with construction material for an upcoming replacement of the bridge, was equipped with lights, but it was still difficult to see on the water so late at night.

Lindsey Stewart's stepfather, Walter Kosik, said the couple have known each other since they were 10 years old and used to go to church together.

"They have been friends the whole time, and they fell in love about 3 1/2 years ago," Kosik said.

They were to be married at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pearl River, with a reception at a Hudson Valley winery, he said.

"The New York State Thruway Authority, which is overseeing the bridge project, said it was reviewing safety procedures.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time," the authority said in a statement.

The cause of the accident is under investigation. Piermont is about 25 miles north of New York City.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.