Truck Driver Makes Plea in 'Bachelorette Horror' Crash

Steven Romeo, 55, says he's not guilty of DUI
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2015 5:00 PM CDT
Truck Driver Makes Plea in 'Bachelorette Horror' Crash
Authorities investigate the scene after a fatal crash between a limousine and truck on Saturday, July 18, 2015, in Cutchogue, NY.   (Randee Daddona/Newsday via AP)

The truck driver who left a bride-to-be critically injured and killed four of her friends in a horrific car crash yesterday has pleaded not guilty to drunk driving. Steven Romeo, 55, made the plea today from a Long Island hospital bed where he's recovering from injuries sustained in the crash, the New York Times reports. His bail is set at $1 million bond or $500,000 cash. "Right now, we’re continuing the investigation and looking into upgrading the charges significantly," says assistant DA Elizabeth Miller, who adds that the limo driver won't be charged. Meanwhile, Romeo's lawyer denied media reports that Romeo was driving drunk or fled the scene, but said little else. Details are emerging about the accident, in which a bride-to-be and seven of her friends were riding in a limousine just after 5pm on Route 48 in Cutchogue, NY.

"I don’t believe it was a bridal party, but they were celebrating," Miller tells the Suffolk Times. The limo was negotiating a U-turn at a crossroad that has two flashing yellow lights going west and east to caution drivers, Newsday reports. That's when Romeo's pickup slammed into the limo with such force that it tore almost totally through the vehicle. An eyewitness says Romeo sat there, bloodied and incoherent, holding a water bottle. Dead in the crash are Lauren Baruch, 24, Stephanie Belli, 23, Amy R. Grabina, 23, and Brittney Schulman, 23. A local boat repairman, Romeo was involved in another fatality last year when a bucket fell off a skid-steer loader he was operating at a construction site, killing a 30-year-old worker—but while citations and fines were issued, Romeo wasn't charged, partly because he hadn't been trained to operate the equipment. (More car crash stories.)

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