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Limo driver in fatal Cutchogue crash files notice of claim against Southold Town


The limousine driver involved in the deadly accident that killed four women in Cutchogue this July filed a notice of claim against Southold Town Thursday, claiming the town was negligent by not making the intersection where the crash occurred safer.

His notice marks the latest from the victims in the crash filed against the town, though he is the first of the two involved drivers to allege the town played a role in the crash.

According to a notice of claim — which signals a potential future lawsuit — Carlos Pino of Bethpage claims the town contributed to the crash by “causing, allowing and permitting a dangerous and defective condition to exist” at the intersection of Route 48 and Depot Lane.

As a result, Mr. Pino claims he “suffered sever permanent personal injuries” including neck, back, and head injuries, a fractured hand, and “extensive psychological and emotional trauma,” according to the suit.

On July 18, Mr. Pino tried to make a U-turn while driving the limo eastbound at the intersection. As it turned, the limo was struck by a pickup truck headed west and driven by 55-year-old Steven Romeo of Peconic.

Four women were killed: Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack; and Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown. Four others survived.

Mr. Romeo was arrested and faces a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge. In the immediate aftermath of the crash, prosecutors said they would not be pursuing any criminal charges against Mr. Pino.

In his notice of claim, Mr. Pino says he was “lawfully traveling on Route 48” at the time of the crash.

His notice of claim is the latest filed against the town, all of which accuse Southold Town of recklessness by failing to improve the intersection.

In August, the father of Ms. Baruch filed a notice of claim against Southold Town and Suffolk County. A week later, both Joelle DiMonte, a survivor of the crash, and the family of Ms. Schulman filed similar claim.

Last month, the mother of Ms. Grabina filed a notice of claim, followed by a claim by Alicia Arundel, a 24-year-old Setauket resident who survived the crash.

Another survivor, Olga Lipets, 24, filed a separate civil suit in Brooklyn court in July against both drivers, the town and the county.

Earlier this month, a new traffic light at the intersection was activated; the light doesn’t include a left-turn signal.

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Photo credit: Chris Lisinski

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the direction in which the pickup truck was driving at the time of the accident.