Tragic DWI Crash in Cutchogue

This past Saturday, July 18, 2015, there was an horrific DWI crash in Cutchogue on Long Island.  An intoxicated driver of a pick up truck that collided with a limousine and killed four women attempted to leave the scene of the accident.  Police reported that the driver of the pick up truck, Carlos Romeo, 55, got out of his truck after the crash and walked approximately 1000 feet, climbed a fence and was walking down an embankment when ordered to stop by Southold Police Officers.  Mr. Romeo was given standardized field sobriety tests and was arrested for DWI.

The accident occurred when Mr. Romeo, who was driving westbound on Route 48, collided with a limousine carrying eight young women who had returned from a local winery and were celebrating a birthday.  The limousine driver attempted to make a U-turn at an intersection, when the limo was broadsided on the passenger side by the pick up truck.  3 of the women were pinned inside the limousine and a fourth died later that day at Peconic Bay Medical Center.  The four women who were killed were identified by Southold Police Chief Martin Flatley as Brittney M. Schulman, 23, of Smithtown, Lauren Baruch, 24, also of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of nearby Kings Park; and Amy R. Grabina, 23, of Commack, on the North Shore.

Mr. Romeo has had previous legal problems.  Back in January of 2014, he was operating construction equipment without proper training when a bucket fell off, fatally striking a co-worker.  There is a civil lawsuit pending in that case by the family of the co-worker.  After the July 18th accident, Mr. Romeo was taken to Eastern Long Island Hospital.  At the hospital, blood tests determined that Mr. Romeo’s blood alcohol level was in excess of 0.08%, the legal standard for intoxication in New York, and he was arraigned at his hospital bed, pled not guilty, and was ordered held on $500,000 cash bail or $1 million bond, and charged with one count of misdemeanor DWI, which carries fines of approximately $900.00 and a minimum six month revocation of his driver’s license.  However, Mr. Romeo faces much more severe criminal responsibility than the DWI he is presently charged with, due to the four fatalities and serious injuries of the other young women in the limousine.

The driver of the limousine, Carlos Pino, reportedly never saw the pick up truck coming when he made the u-turn. He was also tested for DWI and apparently all tests came back negative.  The company Pino is employed by, Ultimate Class Limousine, issued a statement:  “This was a tragic accident, on what should have been a happy day for a group of young women.”  Pino was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon.

Apparently, there are no signs at the intersection warning drivers not to make u-turns, and there have been previous accidents there in the past.  Mr. Romeo will be in Court on Friday, July 24, 2015, where the charges against him will be undoubtedly be upgraded to felonies such as vehicular manslaughter, and vehicular assault, in additional to DWI.

If you or a family member are charged with DWI, felony DWI, refusal to take a chemical test, or a traffic violation, contact the Law Office of Mark Siesel online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options in detail.