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N.Y. boater gets prison for fatal Hudson River crash

NEW CITY, N.Y. - A New Yorker was sentenced Tuesday to two years behind bars for crashing a powerboat into a barge, killing a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man.

Jojo John's 19-foot Stingray crashed into a barge that was moored in the Hudson River as part of the construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, about 30 miles north of Manhattan, in July 2013. He pleaded guilty in June to vehicular manslaughter and admitted that he was drunk at the time of the crash.

Two of his friends, Lindsey Stewart of Piermont and Mark Lennon of Pearl River, both 30, were killed. Stewart was to have been married two weeks later. The groom-to-be, Brian Bond, was injured, as was John.

John tearfully apologized to their families and said he thinks of the victims every day.

"There are days when I question why God took two people and not me," John told the court. "I find myself crying a lot because of how my heart feels about them not being here. ... I'm standing here heartbroken."

Lennon's brother, Mark, said both families are suffering "incomprehensible heartache."

But he said he was not there "to speak ill of Jojo John. ... He is facing a life sentence of his own."

Prosecutors said the 36-year-old John had nearly twice the legal level of alcohol in his system when the boat crashed. They quoted him as telling first responders, "I've been drinking all day," or words to that effect.

John's lawyer, David Narain, insisted that the crash was caused not by intoxication but by a lack of lighting on the barge. The Coast Guard and the state Thruway Authority, which is building the bridge, said the barge was properly lighted.

Stewart's and Lennon's families have sued several companies involved in the construction, citing poor lighting. But they also sued John, as co-owner of the boat, and said he was careless and negligent. Others who were in the boat also have sued.

John's civil lawyer, James Mercante, said Monday that the end of the criminal case means civil lawyers will get access to the boat and other evidence. A court conference in the lawsuits, which have been consolidated, is scheduled for Oct. 27.