Published July 28, 2013
PIERMONT, N.Y. – Brian Bond was disoriented from head trauma and in darkness when he awoke from unconsciousness soon after the speedboat he was in with his fiancee and four friends smashed into a construction barge on New York's Hudson River, hurling the bride-to-be and Bond's best man into the water.
Bond used his cellphone to call 911 late Friday night, and first responders relied on heat-seeking technology to locate the boat just south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, authorities said.
On Saturday, a woman's body matching the description of 30-year-old Lindsey Stewart was pulled from the water. Authorities haven't yet released a positive identification.
Stewart and Bond, friends since childhood, were to be married in two weeks, on Aug. 10.
Bond's best man, Mark Lennon, 30, remains missing and is presumed dead, authorities said. Emergency crews planned to continue their search for him Sunday.
Jojo John, who was operating the boat, was charged Saturday with vehicular manslaughter and three counts of vehicular assault from a hospital bed where he was recovering from his injuries in the crash, said Chief William Barbera of the Rockland County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said they suspect the 35-year-old Nyack man was intoxicated at the time of the crash; they were awaiting the results of blood tests. Attempts to reach John's family were not immediately successful and it was not clear if he had an attorney.
Barbera declined to identify the other two people aboard the boat and had no information on their condition. The two and Bond also remained hospitalized Saturday night.
The group had left the village of Piermont for a short trip aboard the 21-foot Stingray across the river to Tarrytown, about 30 miles north of New York City, authorities said.
Stewart and Lennon were thrown from the boat when it struck a barge carrying materials for the construction of a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge, authorities said. Barbera said the barge was equipped with lights, but it was still difficult to see on the water late at night.
Stewart, of Piermont, worked for an insurance company. She and Bond were to be married at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pearl River, with a reception at a vineyard in Hillburn, her stepfather Walter Kosik said.
The couple had known one another for years and used to go to church together, he said.
"They have been friends the whole time, and they fell in love about 3 ½ years ago," Kosik said.
Stewart's former English teacher at Pearl River High School, who remained in contact with her through Facebook, called the accident "heartbreaking."
"She was one of my students and a bright, sweet girl loved by everyone," said Doreen Arney. "I knew that she was getting married, and to Brian. To happen to two such special kids — it just shouldn't happen."
The New York State Thruway Authority, which is overseeing the bridge project, said it was reviewing safety procedures. It said the lighting on the barges appeared to be functioning normally.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time," the authority said in a statement.