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Published: Sunday, 7/28/2013

Search resumes for best man after N.Y. boat crash; body of woman thought to be bride-to-be found

ASSOCIATED PRESS

PIERMONT, N.Y. — Authorities returned to the Hudson River today to search for the planned best man in a wedding who fell into the water after a speedboat carrying members of a bridal party crashed near the Tappan Zee Bridge.

About a dozen boats are helping scour the water for 30-year-old Mark Lennon, who is presumed dead, said William Barbera, chief of the Rockland County Sheriff's Office.

Lennon and 30-year-old bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart were thrown into the river after their boat crashed into a construction barge Friday night. Four other people on the boat, including Stewart's fiance, were hurt.

The body of a woman matching Stewart's description was pulled from the water Saturday. Authorities haven't yet released a positive identification.

The boat's operator, Jojo John, 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, Barbera said.

Authorities said they suspect the 35-year-old Nyack man was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but they are still awaiting results of blood tests. Attempts to reach John's family weren't immediately successful and it wasn't 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.

The boat 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 each other 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," Doreen Arney said. "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.



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