Read Time:4 Minute, 46 Second
PIERMONT, N.Y. — Wedding plans turned to funeral arrangements Sunday as a community grieved an unfathomable tragedy and two families prepared to bury a bride-to-be and best man killed in a violent boat crash near the Tappan Zee Bridge late Friday.
A body believed to be that of Mark Lennon, 30, of Pearl River, N.Y., was discovered at 11:12 a.m. Sunday by a recreational jet skier in the Hudson River about a mile south of Piermont, N.Y.
Lennon, who was to be the best man at the Aug. 10 wedding of Lindsey Stewart and Brian Bond, had been missing since the 19-foot powerboat he and five others were on crashed into a construction barge at 10:40 p.m. Friday.
With both victims accounted for, the boat operator — who is accused of being drunk at the helm — could face additional charges in the wreck as soon as Monday, the same day work resumes on the $3.9 billion bridge replacement.
Lennon and Stewart were in the front of the vessel and were thrown into the river by the impact. Her body was found just south of the bridge Saturday morning. Four others, including Bond, 35, were injured.
Bond, a teacher in White Plains, N.Y., is scheduled to have surgery Monday, family said. He is expected to recover.
A funeral date has not yet been set for the 30-year-old Piermont would-be bride.
The Rockland County, N.Y., medical examiner has not yet made positive identifications on either body, but the families had little doubt.
"He's at peace," said Lennon's mother, Dympna, after authorities informed the family of the discovery. "He was a very joyous, happy person, and he'd want us to celebrate his life, and that's what we are going to do."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
New charges are expected against the boat operator, Jojo John, 35, of Nyack, N.Y., who was arraigned Saturday in his bed at Nyack Hospital on a single felony charge of vehicular manslaughter and multiple vehicular assault charges.
Authorities said he was drunk while piloting the boat, which crashed into a barge holding construction equipment for the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
John was charged with drug possession, a misdemeanor, in 2009 and drug-related conspiracy, a felony, in 2010, according to the Sheriff's Department. It was not clear where in Rockland County he was charged.
John was sentenced to community service and probation after the charges. It was not immediately clear whether he was still serving probation.
He is being held on $250,000 bail.
The Stingray involved in the accident is described on a marine website as a 1999 bow rider that was listed for auction in 2012. Bow riders are "runabout" boats with open bow sections in front of the helm where passengers can sit or lounge.
Recreational boaters claim the barges that the boat struck were not adequately lit, while New York state officials and the bridge construction company said all regulations were followed. After the crash, officials said additional lighting would be added.
Construction will resume as planned Monday on the five-year bridge replacement project. More barges and equipment are expected to be put in the area as the project gets under way.
The discovery of the second body ended the long wait that started as soon as rescuers hit the water moments after the wreck was reported Friday night.
Neither of the bodies presumed to be Stewart and Lennon had flotation devices when they were discovered. Two of the four survivors were wearing life jackets, authorities said.
"The family is distraught and devastated as any family would be," Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco said soon after the body believed to be Lennon's was found. "No one expects to experience this."
Lennon recently completed nursing school and was working two jobs, one in construction, another as a bartender.
He was overjoyed to be in the wedding party of Bond, his close high school friend, his brother, Raymond Lennon, said.
Lennon described his younger brother and only sibling as "wild at heart."
"Every day was an adventure for him," said Raymond Lennon on Sunday. "I'm the big brother, but his heart was a lot bigger than mine. He was my rock."
Shortly before the second body was pulled from the Hudson, parishioners at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Pearl River — where the couple planned to wed Aug. 10 with Lennon as best man — prayed for the doomed wedding party.
The Rev. John Havrilla said they were "two beautiful young people whose lives were filled with hope and dreams, and that has been snuffed away."
Havrilla remembered both Bond and Stewart as children. They attended Sunday school at the church, had their confirmation there, and Stewart was deeply involved in its youth programs, Havrilla said.
"Lindsey was always just a gem, a sweetheart. She was an important part of our congregation," the pastor said. "And Brian was always a delightful kid, a character in many ways."
There is no easy way to comprehend why the lives of two young people — including a bride — ended so abruptly, Havrilla said.
"Her loss, and the wedding," he said. "(It) just makes this even more of a heartache."