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Officials reconstruct fatal limo crash as another family says it will file lawsuit

On Aug. 20, 2015, Southold police shut down State Route 25 from Cox Lane to Depot Lane and up County Route 48 for more than two hours for "further investigation" into the crash that killed four young women on July 18, 2015. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Investigators closed roads in Cutchogue Thursday as they reconstructed the July accident in which four women were killed when their limousine was struck broadside by a pickup.

Southold Town police confirmed they shut down State Route 25, also known as Main Road, from Cox Lane to Depot Lane and along County Route 48, also known as Middle Road, for 2 to 2 1/2 hours for "further investigation" into the crash.

A white limousine and a white pickup could be seen in the blocked-off section of Main Road at Depot Lane in late morning. It was reopened shortly after noon.

Meanwhile, the family of another victim has filed a notice of claim against the Town of Southold, Suffolk County and New York State, said John Juliano of East Northport, a lawyer representing the family of Brittney Schulman, 23, of Smithtown.

The county confirmed it had received the notice of claim.

"We filed several notices because it is early in the investigation and we are not sure of what role various agencies had in failing to maintain this road safely," Juliano said.

The family of victim Lauren Baruch, 24, of Smithtown filed a notice of claim earlier this month against the county and the town. A notice of claim puts the jurisdiction on notice that it might be sued and should preserve its records.

The July 18 crash also killed Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack; and Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park. Four other passengers were seriously injured. The crash occurred as their limo, driven by Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage, made a U-turn on Middle Road and was hit by a pickup driven by Steven Romeo, 55, of Southold.

Romeo was charged with driving while intoxicated, but testing later showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.066 percent, under the legal threshold of 0.08 percent. The charges are still pending, prosecutors said Thursday.

Both notices of claim said local officials were aware that buses and limousines had trouble making U-turns on Middle Road at Depot Lane.

A survivor of the crash, Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn, has filed a lawsuit against both drivers.

The latest notice of claim says: "A proximate cause of the accident was . . . negligent design, construction, maintenance of the aforesaid roadway, failure to install the proper traffic control device(s), failure to install a traffic light at a dangerous intersection and failure to place proper traffic signage, including, but not limited to a no U-turn sign."


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