Body in river thought to be of best man

Last updated 09:27 29/07/2013

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A second body has been pulled from New York's Hudson River, near where a bride-to-be and her fiance's best man went missing after a night time boat crash.

The body of a man believed to be 30-year-old Mark Lennon was discovered by someone on a recreational watercraft who then called 911, Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said. The body was found near Piermont, more than a kilometre downstream from where the body of a woman, believed to be bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart, was found on Saturday (local time).

Lennon and Stewart were thrown into the river on Friday night after their speedboat crashed into a barge carrying materials for the construction of a replacement for a bridge. Four other friends, including Stewart's fiance, Brian Bond, and the boat operator, Jojo John, were hospitalised.

Falco said both families had been notified and were distraught. The bodies have since been taken to the medical examiner's office and neither person was wearing a life vest.

"I don't think you can put words to what we have to tell these families," he said.

Stewart was set to be married August 10. Lennon was the best man.

John, 35, of Nyack, was charged on Saturday with vehicular manslaughter and three counts of vehicular assault from a hospital bed, where he was recovering from his injuries in the crash, said William Barbera, chief of the Rockland County Sheriff's Office. Authorities say they suspect John was intoxicated at the time of the crash, but were awaiting results of blood tests.

Authorities declined to identify the other two boat passengers, saying they were considered witnesses to a crime. One of them had been released from the hospital.

Authorities have said the barge was equipped with lights, but it was still difficult to see on the water late at night. Falco said on Sunday that the lighting would be a part of the investigation.

"We will determine if those barges were lit properly and if it was a factor," he said.

Sheryl Palacio, a high school biology teacher from Valley Cottage, went to the pier Sunday with her two young sons and father and said she knew Bond, an art teacher, and John.

"I've known Brian my whole life," she said. "He's an outstanding teacher, a wonderful, kind, respectful man. Now his best friend is missing and his other best friend is charged with manslaughter."

Palacio said John worked as a banker at a local Chase branch and opened accounts for her two boys.

"I just want to make sure everyone knows he was a good man, happy and loving," she said. "He was always telling me about his nieces and nephews."

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Palacio's father, Mitchell Turk, of Orangeburg, said he visited with Bond's mother, Jean, at her home in Pearl River on Sunday.

"It's sad and quiet there, long faces. They're trying to carry on, doing as well as can be expected," Turk said.

The group left the village of Piermont for a short trip aboard the 21-foot Stingray across the river to Tarrytown, about 30 miles north of New York City, authorities said.

Stewart, of Piermont, worked for an insurance company. She and Bond were to be married at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pearl River, with a reception at a vineyard in Hillburn, her stepfather, Walter Kosik, said.

The couple had known each other for years and used to go to church together, he said.

"They have been friends the whole time, and they fell in love about 3 1/2 years ago," Kosik said.

The New York State Thruway Authority, which is overseeing the bridge project, said it was reviewing safety procedures. It said the lighting on the barges appeared to be functioning normally.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult time," the authority said in a statement.

- AP

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