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Autopsy Results Released In Deadly Hudson River Boating Crash

Rockland County Medical Examiner: Both Victims Drowned

PIERMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Autopsy results were released Monday on a bride-to-be and her fiance’s best man who were killed in a boating accident last week on the Hudson River.

Meanwhile, as CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported, an ongoing investigation into the accident was under way Monday night. The Rockland County Sheriff and the New York State Park Police were reconstructing the accident scene, factoring in everything from the tides to the weather.

The deadly collision left groom-to-be Brian Bond, 35, grieving for his intended bride, Lindsey Stewart, 30, and his best friend while facing surgery for his own injuries two weeks before the wedding day.

Bond remained hospitalized in Westchester County Monday with a severe head injury.

“He’s as good as you’d expect someone to be in this situation,” said Bond’s uncle, John Devlin.

Lindsey Stewart, Mark Lennon

Bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart (left) and best man Mark Lennon (right). (credit: CBS 2)

“I don’t think you can put words to what we have to tell these families,” Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said as he announced that a body believed to be that of Mark Lennon, 30, the best man, was found Sunday morning.

The county Medical Examiner’s Office said Stewart died of head injuries and drowning. Lennon drowned, according to the office. Toxicology results were pending Monday.

As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, at the Piermont home the couple shared, there were memorial candles and flowers rather than the wedding bouquets that Stewart and Bond had planned for the near-term future.

The bride-to-be’s mother, Carol Stewart-Kosik, was inconsolable after the Friday night heartbreak on the Hudson, saying she could not talk.

Meanwhile at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church — the church where Stewart and Bond would have been married Aug. 10 — the pastor said their lives “were filled with hopes and dreams, and that has been snuffed away.”

Lennon’s brother, Raymond Lennon, said his brother loved Bond and Stewart and “looked forward to being part of their wedding.”

The funeral service for Stewart will be held at the church Thursday.

Stewart, Bond, Lennon and three others were on a speedboat that crashed Friday night into a barge holding equipment for the construction of a replacement for the Tappan Zee.

The group had left the village of Piermont for a short trip aboard the 21-foot Stingray across the river to Tarrytown.

Police said it was being piloted by Jojo John, 35, of Nyack, whom they suspect was intoxicated. John has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault.

“We have probable cause to believe he was intoxicated and that’s the basis of the charge,” said Rockland County Undersheriff Robert VanCura.

The Rockland County District Attorney’s Office said it is seeking more serious charges in the case and are waiting for the results of a toxicology report.

“The investigation into this tragic accident will be detailed and complete, including survivor and witness interviews and a thorough analysis of evidence,” District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said in a statement.

A neighbor said John worked at a bank and seemed like a responsible person.

Jojo K. John

Jojo K. John. (credit: CBS 2)

Stewart and Lennon were thrown off the boat. When the bodies were found, they did not have life vests on, said Sheriff’s Department Chief William Barbera.

The others all suffered head injuries.

“It’s horrific,” Falco said. “Nothing but time will heal this but it is something that will never be forgotten.”

Investigators will look at the boat’s speed as well as tide and weather conditions. The sheriff said the barge’s lighting would also be part of the investigation of the crash.

The U.S. Coast Guard said Monday that the barge was equipped with the required lights. But several frequent boaters said they thought the required lighting was insufficient.

“It should have been lit up like a Christmas tree,” one boater said.

Boater Sharon Forman said it was “absolutely” hard to see the lights.

“I don’t know what the regulations are, but from someone who just came out from the water in the evening, I think you need a lot of light and it’s very confusing as you look out there, there’s a lot of other lights in the background,” Forman said.

Officials said the lighting on the barge will be properly investigated.

“We will determine if those barges were lit properly and if it was a factor,” Falco said.

A spokesman for the $3.9 billion bridge project also said the barges were properly lit Friday night, but lighting has since been added.

“Tappan Zee Constructors reported to the Thruway Authority that all Coast Guard lighting requirements were met and that the barges were properly lit Friday night,” said Brian Conybeare, special advisor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the project.

Pre-construction work related to the new bridge was suspended for the weekend but is to resume Monday.

INCREASED CALLS FOR BOATING SAFETY

In the wake of the fatal crash, one Long Island town is taking new steps to keep people safe on the water.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray announced Monday that the town has acquired new Breathalyzers and rescue diving equipment.

The Breathalyzers will be used to keep boaters who are drinking from driving a boat and the new rescue equipment will be used to save boating accident victims, officials said.

“This is a first in New York,” Christopher Briggs of the Bay Constable Benevolent Association said. “With this equipment, it gives a shallow water public safety diver 30 minutes at 30 feet of time to potentially rescue a victim.”

The Town of Hempstead's new rescue diving equipment is seen on Monday, July 29, 2013. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

The Town of Hempstead’s new rescue diving equipment is seen on Monday, July 29, 2013. (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Murray added the crackdown is meant to deter would-be risky behavior.

“Now more than ever, we need to take steps to ensure the safety of our boating public,” Murray told WCBS 880. “Drinking and boating at the same time is a very, very dangerous, highly deadly activity and we want to make sure that the public knows that on the waterways in the town of Hempstead, there are Breathalyzer units, there are police officers going around, Bay Constables, and we take these potential crimes very, very seriously.”

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