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Friend Of Women Killed In Limo Crash Reportedly Backed Out Of Outing At Last Minute

CUTCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A friend of the women killed in Saturday's limo crash on Long Island reportedly backed out of the outing at the last minute.

Dana Carlino, was supposed to be in that limo with the seven women, but chose to work instead -- a decision that could have saved her life, CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

"They did the right thing and hired a limo service to bring them to a winery so they could drink responsibly," said another friend Julian Bosch. "And ultimately the demise is the decision of someone who did the complete opposite."

New details about the crash emerged Monday including a statement from a witness to investigators that the limo made a U-turn directly into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.

The limo driver, however, told police he never saw the truck coming when he tried to make the turn along Route 48 in Cutchogue, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Monday. Investigators are awaiting the accident reconstruction report, which could tell police how fast the pickup was going.

The limo driver was sober and probably won't be ticketed for making the U-turn, officials told reporters, including 1010 WINS' Sonia Rincon. The pickup driver, Steven Romeo, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated at his arraignment Sunday at his hospital bedside in Greenport.

DA: Witness Said Limo Turned Into Path Of Truck

Spota said Romeo admitted to drinking beer at his house before the crash.

Officials say more charges are possible. Romeo's bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.

The DA said Romeo stayed at the scene for 15 minutes and spoke with police, but then walked away and climbed a fence as an officer followed. It is unclear if Romeo will be charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

Steve Romeo
Steve Romeo, reportedly the co-owner of Southold-based Romeo Dimon Marine Services, is charged with driving while intoxicated.

"He initially told him to stop," Spota said. "The defendant continued to walk. However, he did stop at a certain point."

The limo was carrying eight women, friends since high school, who were returning from a winery on Long Island's North Fork.

Police say 23-year-old Brittney Schulman, 24-year-old Lauren Baruch, 23-year-old Stephanie Belli and 23-year-old Amy Grabina were all killed.

Other friends described them all as vibrant and success-oriented, CBS2's Emily Smith reported.

Long Island Limo Crash Victims
L-R: Amy Grabina, Stephanie Belli, Lauren Baruch, Brittney Schulman

In the mangled metal and glass wreckage, four of the women survived and were hospitalized, along with both drivers.

A loved one of Baruch was seen wiping tears from her eyes on the porch of Baruch's Smithtown home Monday morning. Friends and neighbors are struggling to comfort her grieving family, dealing with the unfathomable loss.

"I can't believe it," said neighbor Victor Tison. "I can't believe she's dead."

No New Charges Filed For Pickup Driver In Long Island Crash That Killed 4

Her father, Steven Baruch, spoke by phone about his daughter.

"As a family, we're obviously devastated by the loss of my daughter," he said. "She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We loved her more than anything. Now I've got to bury my daughter. "

The intersection with the blinking light was a known trouble spot, WCBS 880's Alex Silverman reported. The turn isn't illegal, but police in Southold say they've been regularly writing tickets to limos in particular whose drivers don't yield before making U-turns.

Truck Driver Pleads Not Guilty In Fatal Limo Crash

Romeo's lawyer, Dan O'Brien, offered condolences and said his client did remain at the crash scene.

"It's a tragic event," he said. "Condolences to all of the families involved."

Romeo was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond.

On Sunday, the limousine company released a statement saying: "Our condolences and deepest sympathy for the victims and their families. This was a tragic accident on what should have been a happy day for a group of young women. We pray for the victims and for the families as they go through this unimaginable time."

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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