Speedboat driver charged with manslaughter in fatal New York crash

NEW YORK Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:25pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The pilot of a speedboat that was carrying six members of a wedding party when it crashed into a barge on the Hudson River was charged on Saturday with vehicular manslaughter in the death of one of the passengers, reported as the bride-to-be.

Jojo John, 35, was also charged with three counts of vehicular assault, said Rockland County Sheriff William Barbera. He was in custody at a local hospital, where he was being treated for injuries he suffered along with three others injured in the accident on Friday night.

The body of a woman was pulled from the water on Saturday by crews searching for two people missing from the crash north of New York City, Barbera said.

"There were signs of intoxication," Barbera said, and police are awaiting confirmation from a lab that John was indeed drunk at the time of the accident, he added.

The medical examiner's office is unlikely to announce the identity of the dead woman until Monday, Barbera said. According to local media reports, the body was believed to be that of Lindsey Stewart, 30, who was due to be married on August 10.

Barbera said a sixth boat passenger, who was reported to be the best man, was still missing. Fire officials said earlier in the day they presumed that neither of the missing passengers had survived.

The sheriff's office said the boat hit a construction barge anchored below the Tappan Zee Bridge, part of the New York State Thruway and a major transportation link across the Hudson River about 25 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.

No details of the circumstances of the crash were released by authorities. Fire officials said the barge was illuminated by an anchor light but would have been difficult to see in the darkness by approaching boats on the river on Friday night.

The Journal News newspaper said the vessel was a 21-foot (6-metre) power boat.

(Reporting by Greg McCune and Edith Honan; Editing by Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)

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