Jojo John, who pleaded guilty in June to two counts of vehicular manslaughter in a fatal July 2013 boat crash on the Hudson River, was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison.
"There are days I question why God took two people and not me,” John said at his sentencing hearing. “I find myself crying a lot because of how my heart feels about them not being here. ... I’m standing here heartbroken.”
John, 36, of Nyack, crashed the powerboat he was driving into a barge that was being used for construction on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, killing two of his friends, bride-to-be Lindsey Stewart, of Piermont, and Mark Lennon, of Pearl River, who was to be best man at the wedding. Both were 30.
Ray Lennon, 31, Mark's brother, and Dan DiIorgi, another injured passenger, also spoke at the hearing before state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly. Lennon and Dilorgi said that although they did not condone John's actions, he was not solely responsible and he would have to live with the consequences for the rest of his life.
"We're not here to speak ill of Jojo," Lennon told the judge. He said John's conviction was "incomplete justice."
Lennon and DiIorgi said the owner of the barge shared blame. Both also were critical of the district attorney's office, which they said protected the barge owner.
Lennon said the sentence marked another step in a "terrible nightmare which our family has yet to wake up from."
John was driving the boat with nearly twice the legal level of alcohol in his system. He suffered a fractured skull and spine injury.
"What we're talking about here is reckless conduct," prosecutor Stephen Moore said Tuesday. Moore said John has a substance-abuse problem, spent 18 months in rehab just before the accident and was on probation for cocaine possession. Part of the time he will serve is for violating that probation.
John’s lawyer, David Narain, has said his client was driving safely and crashed into the barge because it was not lit properly. The Coast Guard said the barge was properly lit on the night of the crash.