CUTCHOGUE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The driver charged in a crash Saturday that left four women dead and five other people injured has been identified as a Long Island businessman.
Steve Romeo, reportedly the co-owner of Southold-based Romeo Dimon Marine Services, is charged with driving while intoxicated. The pickup truck he was driving crashed into a limousine carrying the limo driver and eight women who were leaving a bachelorette party in wine country, police said.
Romeo, 55, who was also injured, was arraigned Sunday at Eastern Long Island Hospital. He pleaded not guilty to driving while intoxicated. Officials say more charges are likely. His bail was set at $500,000 cash or $1 million bond.
Police identified the deceased Sunday as Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown; Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack.
Driver Of Pickup Truck Arrested After Limo Crash Kills 4 Bridesmaids
The limo was leaving a winery and making a U-turn at a blinking traffic signal to head west when the pickup collided with it, Southold police Chief Martin Flatley said. The driver of the pickup hit the brakes before the crash but could not stop in time, Flatley said.
A law enforcement official, who was not authorized to discuss the details and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the pickup slammed into the side of the limo. The crash occurred just after 5 p.m. along Route 48 at Depot Lane in Cutchogue, on the North Fork of Long Island.
"She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. We loved her more than anything," Steven Baruch, father of Lauren, told the Associated Press over the phone. "Now I've got to bury my daughter."
"I have kids and this is terrible way to lose your kid," said neighbor Victor Tison told CBS2's Dave Carlin. "It's sad I can't believe it, I can't believe she's dead."
Father Of Woman Killed In Crash Speaks
Limousines are common in the area for people visiting the numerous wineries there.
Flatley said the driver of the pickup ran from the crash scene, but was caught and arrested.
The passengers in the limo who were injured and transported to area hospitals are Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood; Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale; Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket; and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn. The limo driver -- Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage -- was also injured and hospitalized.
Their conditions were not released.
The police chief said Saturday's crash was "one of the worst accidents I've ever seen." The crash was so violent, the limo was nearly cut in half, CBS2's Matt Kozar reported.
Longtime resident are pushing for big changes at this intersection namely replacing flashlights with a full stoplight, Carlin reported.
"If we could change it to a steady red," said resident Bernadette Peterson. "Maybe have a turning lane with an arrow."
The collision marked the second car crash with multiple fatalities on Long Island in the last several days.
Last Sunday, a father and his two children were killed when their sedan was rear-ended and the car burst into flames. His wife -- the children's mother -- escaped uninjured.
A Queens man was charged with driving while intoxicated in connection with the crash and another man was charged with driving his friend away from the scene. Both have pleaded not guilty and deny any wrongdoing.
On Sunday, the limousine company released a statement:
The ownership and staff of Ultimate Class Limousine express 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 thought this unimaginable time.
We are in direct contact with all authorities and we are providing all information that they have requested for their investigation.
We ask the media to communicate directly with the Southold Police Department to get specific details about the accident. The police will issue the names of those involved.
Ultimate Class Limousine has operated in the region for over 27 years. The company has a strong safety record with no injuries in over 20 years. Each chauffeur receives two weeks of training and continuing education each year. Our Senior Chauffeur reviews on-the-road performance of each chauffeur and each chauffeur has one-on-one, in-office reviews with our Safety Director. Additional statements will be provided to the media when more information is available.
(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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