12/23/16 5:57am
12/23/2016 5:57 AM

It’s nearly impossible to imagine that anything positive could ever result from the fatal July 2015 limo crash in Cutchogue. But a special grand jury report released this week, which suggests new regulations including a statewide ban on U-turns by limousines, holds out the hope that the tragedy has finally sounded an important wake-up call.  READ

Featured Story
12/20/16 12:53pm

Thomas Spota Cutchogue limo crash

On August 12, 2012, a Southold Town resident sent an email to a town official. Attached was a photograph of a limousine attempting to make a U-turn to head west on Route 48.

Unable to complete the maneuver, the driver backed up into the eastbound lane, blocking traffic in a 55 mph zone.  READ

Featured Story
09/04/15 3:54pm
09/04/2015 3:54 PM

The intersection of Depot Lane and Route 48 in Cutchogue where four women where killed when an alleged drunk driver plowed into the limo they were riding in on Saturday afternoon.

Plans for a fourth lawsuit in the wake of July’s limousine crash that left four women dead have been filed, charging both the town and Suffolk County with “failing to own, operate, manage, plan, maintain, repair, design, inspect, supervise and control” the intersection where the fatal Route 48 crash occurred. READ

07/29/15 11:47pm
07/29/2015 11:47 PM

Friends and family of the victims in last week's fatal limousine crash gather at Smithtown West High School Wednesday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Four pink-and-white bouquets, held together with bows and sashes displaying the names of four friends, adorned the stage at Smithtown High School West’s football field last Wednesday night.

Between the bouquets were poster-sized images of the young women who were killed July 19 in a limousine crash in Cutchogue: Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack.

As friends and family gathered for the candlelight vigil, many shared poems, prayers and songs of hope.

Then four white balloons were released, one at a time, in memory of the victims.

During the ceremony, a friend read a statement on behalf of Ms. Grabina’s family that described her as a loving person who acted as a role model for youth.

“We loved her more than words can express,” the statement read. “As her parents, our lives will never be the same.”

Ms. Belli’s family thanked the people who attended the vigil and said Stephanie will always remain in their hearts.

“I want to express from her that she thanks you,” one woman told the crowd. “She loves you and is hugging each one of you at this very moment.

A truck parked outside Wednesday's vigil featuring the names of the four victims. (Credit: Jen Nuzxo)

A truck parked outside Wednesday’s vigil featuring the names of the four victims. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

A family member of Ms. Baruch said she’ll never be forgotten.

“She was truly a special person that touched the lives of many,” he said. “When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”

Smithtown parent Liz Scarpa-Lauro addressed the crowd at the start of the ceremony, saying she helped organize the event in order to honor the victims.

“We came together as a community to support the families — to show them we’re here for you,” she said.

Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley, who attended Wednesday’s vigil, described it as moving.

“We were just as deeply touched as everybody,” he said. “We just wanted to show our condolences and let them know that we care.”

Peconic resident Steven Romeo, 55, was driving a pickup truck westbound on Route 48 when he struck the limousine as the driver was making a U-turn at the Depot Lane intersection. Four additional limo passengers were hospitalized following the crash, as were the two drivers. The eight friends had hired the limousine to take them wine and vodka tasting on the North Fork, prosecutors said.

Mr. Romeo, who District Attorney Thomas Spota has said had a blood alcohol content below the legal limit when he submitted to a blood test nearly two hours after the crash, has been charged with misdemeanor driving while intoxicated. He is due back in court Sept. 18.

Caption: Friends and family of the victims in last week’s fatal limousine crash gather at Smithtown West High School Wednesday. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled one of the crash victims’ names.

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Featured Story
07/27/15 10:07am
07/27/2015 10:07 AM

CHRIS LISINSKI PHOTO

Just over a week after a crash in Cutchogue killed four women and a man was charged with driving while intoxicated following the incident, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for federal funding for a new technology that would disable a car’s ignition if a driver is drunk. READ