No. 7 Story of the Year: Fatal DWI crash in Greenport

12/26/2014 8:00 AM |
John Costello is led out of court Dec. 16. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

John Costello is led out of court Dec. 16. (Credit: Carrie Miller)

The news of a prominent Greenport business owner driving drunk — allegedly causing a crash that left a Peconic man dead — shocked the community weeks before 2014 came to an end. John Costello, 71, stands accused of driving drunk, swerving into oncoming traffic and striking another car, killing its passenger on Dec. 6. At the time of the accident, Mr. Costello had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit, a Suffolk prosecutor said.

Mr. Costello, who suffered a broken neck in the accident, first appeared in Southold Town Justice Court Dec. 16 to be arraigned on a misdemeanor DWI charge.

William Keahon, a lawyer representing Mr. Costello, a longtime dock-builder who owns Costello Marine in Greenport, argued that his client “only had two beers over a 90-minute period” the night of the accident. Mr. Keahon also said that the other driver, 22-year-old Oseas Ramirez, who was driving unlicensed, crossed the roadway and was at fault.

Mr. Ramirez’s passenger, Bartolone Miguel, 32, was taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital, where he later died of his injuries.

An employee of Pellegrini Winery & Vineyard in Cutchogue, Mr. Miguel left behind a wife and son.

Judge Rudolph Bruer maintained bail for Mr. Costello at $250, despite a plea from the ADA to increase it to $100,000.

Judge Bruer said during the proceeding that he considers Mr. Costello “a good friend” of nearly 40 years, adding that he was certain Mr. Costello would continue to appear for future court dates. Mr. Costello entered a not guilty plea and is due back in town court Jan. 30.

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