Jojo John Weeps In Court To Victims' Families: 'I'm So Sorry; I'm So Sorry'

NEW CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A man who crashed a powerboat into a barge on the Hudson River, killing a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man, was sentenced Tuesday to two years behind bars.

Jojo John pleaded guilty in June to vehicular manslaughter and admitted that he was drunk at the time.

In court, John cried as he turned to the victims’ families and said, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish that I died instead of them,” CBS 2’s Lou Young reported.

John’s attorney David Narain said his client accepts responsibility for his actions, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.

“He lost two dear friends that night and that’s something that he’s going to take with him for the rest of his life,” Narain said.

His brother said Jojo John has been drowning in tears of late.

“For at least one week he’s on my shoulder, crying,” Roy John said.

In July 2013, John’s boat crashed into a barge that was part of the construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The impact killed Lindsey Stewart, whose wedding date was two weeks later, and Mark Lennon, her fiancé’s best man. Four others, including John and Stewart’s fiancé, Brian Bond, were injured.

Prosecutors said Jojo John, 36, had nearly twice the legal level of alcohol in his system when the boat crashed. They quoted him as telling first responders, “I’ve been drinking all day,” or words to that effect.

John originally pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges when he was indicted last fall. His lawyer insisted the crash was caused not by intoxication, but by a lack of lighting on the barge.

“The defense investigation has uncovered substantial evidence, including physical evidence and the testimony of numerous witnesses, that the cause of this tragic accident was the poorly and inadequately lit group of barges struck by Jojo John’s boat,” Narain said last November.

The Coast Guard said the barge was properly lighted. But the victims’ families have cited the lighting in lawsuits against several companies involved in the construction.

Rockland District Attorney Tom Zugibe said there was nothing to support criminal charges against the owners and operators of the Hudson River barges, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.

“That aspect of the case was fully investigated,” he said.

Zugibe added that if John wasn’t drunk, the crash wouldn’t have happened.

“The evidence even established he had passed that barge earlier in the day with a passenger and discussed the location of that barge, so he knew where it was, but because of his intoxicated state he couldn’t deal with it,” Zugibe said.

Stewart’s and Lennon’s families have sued several companies involved in the construction, citing poor lighting. But they also sued John, as co-owner of the boat, and said he was careless and negligent. Others who were in the boat also have sued.

Under the plea deal, Jojo John will serve his time at the Rockland County Jail. With good behavior he could be out in 16 months, Young reported.

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