Members of Lennon and Stewart family blast DA’s Office for not considering charges against barge company

An open letter sent by Ray Lennon, brother of boating accident victim Mark Lennon, was released this afternoon on behalf of concerned members of the Lennon and Stewart families. It is not stated how many family members are spoken for in the letter.

Bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart and groom’s best man Mark Lennon lost their lives when a boat manned by friend Jojo John crashed into a construction vessel under the Tappan Zee Bridge on July 26, 2013 .

While John received two years in prison for his role in the crash, Ray Lennon said the DA’s Office had promised to investigate whether the barge company bore any criminal responsibility for lack of warning lighting.

Lennon told the Rockland County Times that ADA Steven Moore informed the families in October 2013 that only one warning light was functioning on the barge. Immediately after the accident the barge company added several more warning lights and new regulations were passed in March 2014.

A response from District Attorney Thomas Zugibe is published below Lennon’s letter.

Ray Lennon’s letter:

The Lennon & Stewart families have never met Rockland County’s District Attorney Thomas Zugibe. After his statements Tuesday evening, both families tried to meet with him to address his commentary but Mr. Zugibe sadly refuses to meet with us- the “people” in which he is supposed to represent.

Below are a few of the family’s reactions:

  • The family’s information with regards to the poorly lit lighting was supplied by the District Attorney’s office on October 24- not by any “propaganda outlets” suggested by Mr. Zugibe. On such date, ADA Steven Moore said that the poor and insufficient lighting on the barge was a factor and that the barge companies no doubt “messed up”. Given that Mr. Zugibe’s comments contradict Mr. Moore’s comments from October- it sounds like there is a great deal of confusion within the DA’s office.
  • Mr. Zugibe did not want to “go through all the fine details” with the media- specifically any questions with regards to barge lighting. The world already knows Jo Jo’s toxicology, his past behavior and the speed in which he was travelling- why doesn’t anyone know how many lights were required to be on the barge and how many were actually turned into the ON position the night of the accident? If a light is physically on the barge, but not turned ON- it serves no purposes to boaters.
  • If the number of lights turned into the “on” position was less than the amount required- why wasn’t the barge company charged criminally and why did the Coast Guard say they met Federal Guidelines?
  • Mr. Zugibe said that the family has been advised of ALL of the information that was developed during the entire course of the investigation. Our families met with ADA Steven Moore on October 24th prior to the investigation being completed. That was the only point in which we received ANY information. We were not updated after the investigation was completed and we are still awaiting more information.
  • Attached to this letter is the TZ Bridge Safety enhancements established on March 27, 2014- EIGHT months after we lost Lindsey and Mark. This project was discussed for well over 10 years. Why weren’t the safety measures established and enforced prior to ANY barges being put in the water? Mr. Zugibe mentioned that this accident would not have happened without Jo Jo’s alcohol use. We believe that to be untrue. There were no safety guidelines in place and the accident could have happened to anyone.

We ask that Mr. Moore or Mr. Zugibe draw the same picture for the world that Mr. Moore drew for the families in October and let everyone know what they shared with us. Then the world can decide if lighting on the barges was a factor.

Sincerely,

Ray Lennon

Statement of Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe in response to open letter by Ray Lennon on behalf of family members:

This terribly sad and tragic case was fully investigated by the grand jury and handled by the most experienced prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. While the outcome cannot begin to ease the pain and loss that has been inflicted upon the Lennon and Stewart families, I know the sentencing of the defendant represents a fair and just disposition of this case. Whatever healing is to come is now in the hands of the parties and is left to the course of time.