( 4UMF NEWS ) Drunk Driver Kills Four Women:
They were eight friends with bright futures celebrating a bride-to-be — until an alleged drunken driver smashed into their limousine, killing four and devastating their Long Island communities.
Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park, and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack, were leaving Vineyard 48 winery on the North Fork of Long Island when Steven Romeo rammed his red pickup truck into their stretch ride, the Southhold Town Police Department said Sunday.
An Instagram photo Grabina posted Saturday before the late afternoon wreck in Cutchogue showed her sipping a drink in a black dress along with the caption, “wine not.”
“She was a beautiful girl. Had her whole future ahead of her,” said a neighbor of the Grabina family, Jim Tampellini, 55. “It’s shocking, tragic.”
The sad quartet were in the car with Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood, L.I.; Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale, Westchester County; Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket, L.I., and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn, who were all treated at local hospitals and survived, police said.
The bride, who was not identified, was among the survivors, Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Miller said.
“They were doing the right thing,” said a man who identified himself as the stepdad of Arundel, referring to the decision to hire a limo.
The group had planned to tour distilleries and vineyards in the North Fork area. The high-speed crash was so violent that the limo was nearly sliced in half when it was T-boned while making a risky U-turn on the rural road.
Photos on social media hint at a tight-knit group of friends pursuing budding careers and enjoying the Long Island summer.
Grabina, an athlete and fan of the Boston Red Sox, had recently begun working as an accountant at Ernst & Young.
Schulman graduated from SUNY Cortland last year with a degree in communications. Her mother, Suzanne, told Newsday her daughter was “a caring person,” but she declined to talk further.
Belli worked at a Steve Madden store and had studied business at SUNY Farmingdale. On Facebook, scores of people offered condolences to her twin sister, Brittany.
Arundel and Lipets were in fair condition at Stony Brook University Hospital, according to a spokesman.
“When are people going to stop drinking and driving?” asked a neighbor of the Arundel family, Katherine Askinazi, 56. “When are people going to get it?”
Romeo, 55, was charged with misdemeanor DWI in the crash that turned the celebration into a tragedy Saturday. He is being held on $500,000 cash or $1 million bond, his lawyer Dan O’Brien said outside Eastern Long Island Hospital.
“It’s a tragic event,” O’Brien said.
The lawyer denied initial reports that his client had fled the scene, and said Romeo had also been hurt in the crash.
O’Brien described the injuries as “serious.”
The 58-year-old limo driver, Carlos Pino, was also taken to a hospital. Pino attempted the U-turn at an intersection by the winery when the crash occurred at 5:11 p.m., police said.
Romeo, who is the co-owner of Romeo Dimon Marine Service, will likely face additional charges as the investigation proceeds, Assistant DA Miller said.
“At this time, we are continuing the investigation and looking into upgrading the charges significantly,” she said.
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