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UPDATE: JoJo John Pleads Guilty to Vehicular Manslaughter

"The defendant has admitted that his decision to pilot a boat while under the influence of alcohol and drugs was responsible for the tragic deaths of two friends," said District Attorney Thomas Zugibe.

Jojo John in Rockland County Court in 2013. Photo: Ricky Flores/LoHud.com
Jojo John in Rockland County Court in 2013. Photo: Ricky Flores/LoHud.com
The man who crashed a speedboat into a construction barge on the Hudson River pleaded guilty to Vehicular Manslaughter in the 2nd degree (2 Counts) and the court promises 1 year for each count to be served consecutively in local jail, the Rockland District Attorney's Office reports.

Jojo John, a Nyack resident, crashed a 19-foot boat into a construction barge near the Tappan Zee bridge July 26, 2013.

Lindsey Stewart of Piermont and Mark Lennon of Pearl River were killed and the other four people in the boat, including John, were injured.

An 18-count indictment had been handed up in Nov. 8, 2013.

He pleaded not guilty to those charges Nov. 20, 2013. 

Here is the full text of the DA's statement:

Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe today announced that Jojo K. John, 36, of 37G Gail Drive, Nyack, New York pled guilty today to: 

• Two counts of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree, class “D” Felonies relating to the death of a bride-to-be and her fiancé’s best man. 

"The defendant has admitted that his decision to pilot a boat while under the influence of alcohol and drugs was responsible for the tragic deaths of two friends," said Zugibe. "By his reckless actions, the defendant illustrated the lethal consequences resulting from driving while intoxicated. As such, the prison term and conditions to be imposed are more than justified."
 
On July 26, 2013, at approximately 10:40 p.m., John was operating a 19-foot Stingray powerboat on the Hudson River, near the Village of Piermont, south of the Tappan Zee Bridge. The defendant crashed the vessel into a construction barge, while traveling at a high rate of speed, with the impact throwing Lindsey Stewart of Piermont and Mark Lennon of Pearl River into the river. 

The victims were pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter by first responders. 

John and four others suffered serious injuries in the accident. 

The defendant was found to have a blood alcohol level in excess of .15 at the time of the incident. Additionally, cocaine metabolites were found in his system. 

He was arrested while recovering at Nyack Hospital. 

Sentencing will be on September 16, 2014.

Click to find out more about the Lindsey Stewart and Mark Lennon Memorial Fund, set up after the boating accident that claimed their lives.
Curious Cathy June 09, 2014 at 06:35 PM
The blame belongs to the lack of lighting on the barges, but his tests came back positive for drugs and alcohol, so the problem with the lights on the barges got overshadowed by these test results.
Slainte June 09, 2014 at 07:32 PM
Poor lighting, cocaine, alcohol and who knows what else all combined to cause this accident. No way to determine anything beyond that. If barges are brighter does this still happen? If Jo Jo isn't drunk and coked up does this still happen? Nobody has those answers, but can't defend what he did. Jo Jo has been arrested for selling cocaine in the past and obviously didn't learn anything. Hard to stick up for him.
Shayna's Mom June 10, 2014 at 06:19 AM
The lack of lighting is partially to blame but Mr. John was also under the influence. Let's not forget that he was speeding as well. If he wasn't high & drunk, perhaps he would have piloted the boat at a safer speed & realized quicker that there was an issue with the lighting. He never should have been operating that boat
Tony T June 10, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Now they, even the defendant, will look for the deepest pockets to sue!!!
Genrl Quarters July 10, 2014 at 10:23 AM
Aside from all the other BS excuses that people here falsely blame it on.....the real root cause is a lack of basic seamanship. A responsible 'captain' does not leave the dock at night (bombed or not) without posting a mate on the bow with a spot-light (to see and be seen). A simple hand-held spot-light (that any responsible boat owner will tell you) is an absolute necessity for night time boating....no less than having PFDs aboard. Even a drunk posted at the bow with a spot-light would have seen the barge (well illuminated or not). This case is no different than trying to drive at night with headlights off.

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