Desi boat owner being sued for causing two deaths days before a wedding

Groom is suing Jojo John for death of his bride, best man.

By Deepak Chitnis

Jojo K. John, the Indian American boat operator who pleaded not guilty to 18 criminal counts for the deaths of a bride and best man this past summer, has now been sued for civil damages by the groom of the deceased woman.

John was in command of a speedboat that had been commandeered by Brian Bond on July 26 – just days before Bond’s wedding to Lindsay Stewart – when it hit a construction barge in the Hudson River, right by the Tappan Zee Bridge. Stewart, as well as Bond’s best man Mark Lennon, were thrown from the barge and died.

Now, John is being sued for physical and emotional damages incurred by Bond as a result of the fatal crash.

Bond is also suing the construction company that owned the barge that was crashed into, claiming that improper lighting conditions may have contributed to the tragedy. Bond and his attorney are asserting that the company failed to heed warnings that they weren’t using enough light and that it could lead to an accident.

The lawsuit alleges that it was only after the crash that killed Bond’s fiancé and best friend that the construction company fixed its lighting conditions, but the Thruway Authority and the US Coast Guard say the conditions met their minimum lighting standards.

Bond’s lawsuit is joined by those of the parents of Stewart and Lennon, as well as one by friend and fellow speedboat passenger John Schumacher. They are suing the half-dozen construction companies doing work along the Tappan Zee Bridge area of the Hudson River for unspecified financial and emotional damages. Specifically, the Tappen Zee Constructors firm has been named in all four civil lawsuits.

Bond suffered a severe eye socket fracture, which necessitated that metal plates be installed in his skull to fix the problem, as a result of the violent boat crash. Schumacher, who is a vice-president at JPMorgan Chase, also suffered eye injuries in addition to ones in his shoulder and jaw.

Investigators arrested John shortly after the accident occurred, and John allegedly told police that he had been drinking prior to taking the boat out. His blood alcohol level registered 0.15, just under twice the legal limit, and prosecutors say that he even had traces of cocaine in him. John was subsequently charged with 18 counts of negligent homicide and vehicular manslaughter.

John’s attorney, David Narain, has maintained his client’s innocence throughout the legal proceedings, saying that he has found multiple witnesses who attest that alcohol and drug-related impairment had nothing to do with the accident and that, in fact, it was caused by poor lighting conditions on the construction barges.

John is currently out on $25,000 bail. If he is found guilty of the criminal charges, he faces a sentence of 15 years in prison.

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