The driver of a pickup truck that crashed into a limousine, killing four women and injuring several other people here on the North Fork of Long Island, was arraigned in his hospital bed on Sunday on a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated, the authorities said.
The driver, Steven Romeo, 55, of Southold, N.Y., was injured in the crash, which occurred Saturday evening. He remained hospitalized at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport.
Mr. Romeo pleaded not guilty. Bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.
“Right now, we’re continuing the investigation and looking into upgrading the charges significantly,” Elizabeth Miller, an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, said.
Outside the hospital, Mr. Romeo’s lawyer, Daniel O’Brien, denied that his client was intoxicated or had fled the scene as some news reports had said. Mr. O’Brien would not comment on where his client had been before the collision, saying only, “That’s got to be developed.”
The limousine had been carrying a bride-to-be and seven of her friends, who were celebrating her upcoming wedding, Ms. Miller said. The driver was making a U-turn at an intersection along Route 48 in Cutchogue, N.Y., shortly after 5 p.m. when the pickup truck struck the side of the limousine, the Southold police said, nearly punching completely through the vehicle.
The group was made up of six women from Suffolk County, one from Brooklyn and another from Scarsdale, N.Y. The bride-to-be was one of the four passengers who survived the crash.
The four who died were identified by the authorities as Brittany M. Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy R. Grabina, 23, of Commack.
Ms. Miller declined to say what Mr. Romeo’s blood-alcohol level was, where he had been before the crash or whether he had fled the scene. She said the driver of the limousine, Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage, N.Y., would not be charged. He was also injured in the crash.
SOURCE: VIVIAN YEE and J. DAVID GOODMAN
The New York Times