‘Tragedy on Hudson’ suspect Jojo John admits guilt, awaits civil trial

John faces a civil trial that could be greatly impacted by his guilty plea. (6/10/14)

PIERMONT - Jojo John, the suspect at the center of the "Tragedy on the Hudson" case, will be officially sentenced in September, but his legal issues are far from over.

The 36-year-old Nyack resident 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 fiance'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.

John also faces a civil trial that could be greatly impacted by his guilty plea.

The families of the victims are suing John and barge owners Tappan Zee Constructors in federal court claiming they should be equally held responsible for the deaths and injuries the victims suffered.

South Nyack civil attorney Stephan Honan says that by taking a plea deal and admitting guilt, John's words can and will likely be used against him.

The trial will be split into two parts. Lawyers will first try to establish a liability case. If the plaintiff is successful at holding someone responsible, the second phase of the trial will begin, which discusses damages.

Attorneys for John say the civil case is still in the discovery phase. They are due back in court on June 20.

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