'Tragedy on Hudson' plea deal questioned
PIERMONT - Residents across the Hudson Valley are reacting to the plea deal that will send Jojo John to prison for two years for his role in the "Tragedy on the Hudson” deaths of two people.
John, 36, of Nyack, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree in the deaths of bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart, 30, of Piermont, and her fiancé's best man, Mark Lennon, 30, of Pearl River. The plea deal carries one year behind bars for each count and the years are to be served consecutively in local prison.
Prosecutors say John was under the influence of drugs and alcohol on July 26, 2013 when he slammed a boat into a barge on the Hudson River that was being used for construction on the new Tappan Zee Bridge. The DA's office says John's blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit the night of the crash. John suffered a fractured skull and spine injury in the crash.
In a statement from his lawyer to News 12, John expressed his condolences to the Stewart and Lennon families and acknowledges his responsibility for his role in the tragic accident.
Rockland County's District Attorney says he's pleased with the decision. "We had the opportunity to discuss the matter with the investigators, with the family [of] the deceased individuals and following those conversations we are satisfied that this was just disposition of the matter. I'm just very happy that he finally came forward and admitted his responsibility," says Rockland County's D.A. Tom Zugibe.
Some people who spoke with News 12 today say they are skeptical of the plea deal. "It's hard to say, look at people getting killed in car crashes and the driver gets out in three months," was one reaction. "I think he has to live with his own conscience. Whatever's done is done. It's between him and God," said another viewer.
John remains out on $25,000 bail. He is scheduled to be officially sentenced in September.