The alleged driver of a pickup truck that crashed into a limousine, killing four women, pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge and faces further charges as the investigation continues, Newsday reported.
Four women at a bachelorette party in New York wine country were killed Saturday and several others were seriously injured after the limo they were in was hit by a pickup truck on the eastern end of Long Island, law enforcement officials said.
The limousine was leaving a winery and making a U-turn at a blinking traffic signal to head west when the pickup collided with it, Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley told Newsday. The driver of the pickup hit the brakes before the crash but could not stop in time, Flatley said.
Brittany M. Schuman, 23, Lauren Baruch, 24, Stephanie Belli, 23, and Amy R. Grabina, 23, died in the crash. All four were from Long Island. Joelle M. Dimonte, 25, Alicia Arundel, 24, Olga Lipets, 24, and Melissa Angela Crai, 23, and limo driver Carlos Pino, 58, were injured, police told Newsday. Though she was not identified, Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Elizabeth Miller told Newsday the bride survived.
"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."
A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the details and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the pickup slammed into the side of the limo. The crash occurred around 6 p.m. along Route 48 in Cutchogue, on the North Fork of Long Island.
Limousines are common in the area for people visiting the numerous wineries there.
Flatley said the driver of the pickup, 55-year-old Steven Romeo, ran from the crash scene, but was caught and arrested. He remained under police guard at a local hospital, having also sustained injuries in the crash. Newsday reported he was arraigned at his bedside and is being held of $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond. Romeo's lawyer, Dan O'Brien, told Newsday that Romeo did not flee the scene.
The police chief said Saturday's crash was "one of the worst accidents I've ever seen."
The collision marked the second car crash with multiple fatalities on Long Island in the last several days.
Last Sunday, a father and his two children were killed when their sedan was rear-ended and the car burst into flames. His wife — the children's mother — escaped uninjured.
A Queens man was charged with driving while intoxicated in connection with the crash and another man was charged with driving his friend away from the scene. Both have pleaded not guilty and deny any wrongdoing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report