'No justice, no closure' say families of Long Island limo crash victims 5 years later

Kristin Thorne Image
Thursday, July 16, 2020
'No justice, no closure' say families of limo crash victims 5 years later
Kristin Thorne has more with the families of the young women killed and injured in the limo crash in Cutchogue five years ago.

CUTCHOGUE, Long Island (WABC) -- The families of the young women killed and injured in the limo crash in Cutchogue five years ago said Thursday they still have not received justice or closure.

"I'm very disheartened," said Susan Arundel, whose daughter was injured in the crash. "I've kind of lost faith and it makes me wonder, what good is out there? Where are all the just people in this world?"

The families believed by now - the five-year anniversary of the tragic incident - more would have changed.

"We're frustrated by the fact that it's been five years and we're still in the midst of litigation," said Steven Baruch, whose daughter Lauren Baruch was killed in the crash.

Baruch and the other families are pursuing civil lawsuits against Suffolk County, the Town of Southold, the limousine manufacturer and the drivers of the limo and the pickup truck. Criminal charges against the drivers never materialized.

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The families said they also imagined the intersection of County Route 48 and Depot Lane would have been reconstructed by now. Drivers of limos and party buses can still make U-turns at the intersection. Suffolk County officials have said a no U-turn sign at the intersection would be ineffective.

"Action must be taken," Baruch said.

On July 18, 2015, Carlos Pino, the driver of the limo carrying eight young women from Long Island, made a three-point U-turn at the intersection. Steven Romeo, driving a pickup truck, crashed into the limo, killing four of the women.

Bob Sullivan, the attorney for Baruch's family, believes important information about the case was withheld from the families.

He points to an ambulance technician report from the day of the incident, which he was not made aware of until three years later.

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In it, the technician writes that a female front-seat passenger in Romeo's car refused medical treatment.

"We've tried to depose that lady to find out what she saw. It's five years and we still can't get it done. But we will not stop," Sullivan said.

Sullivan also points to an email from a resident near the intersection warning officials in the Town of Southold three years prior to the incident about limos making dangerous U-turns.

"If a limo is broadsided by another car in a situation that you see in the picture I am sending you how many injuries will occur?" resident Bill Shipman wrote August 12, 2012 to the town supervisor.

"They knew that this accident was going to happen years before it happened," Sullivan said.

The families of the victims have been successful throughout the past few years in getting New York to pass some of the country's toughest limo safety regulations. Now they're trying to do it on the federal level.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Safe Limo Act and it is now headed to the U.S. Senate.

"We appeal to those in the Senate and our elected officials to move these safety measures for signature on the President's desk ASAP," said Nancy DiMonte whose daughter was injured in the crash.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone called the incident Thursday a "tragedy," but said he was unable to comment on specifics from the families' press conference because of pending litigation.

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell did not respond to our requests for comment.

WATCH | Exclusive: Mother of limo crash victim plans charity 5k

Kristin Thorne reports on a mother's mission after losing her daughter in a limo crash on Long Island.


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