Last week it was confirmed that Steven Romeo, the allegedly intoxicated pickup truck driver involved in the fatal Cutchogue limo crash in July, was not going to be charged with manslaughter.
We’re sure this came as a shock to many people, who had written off Romeo as guilty as soon as it was reported that he had been drinking the day he T-boned the limo in a crash that killed four young North Shore women on a wine tour and injured several others.
Referring to limo driver Carlos F. Pino’s risky U-turn that put that vehicle directly into Romeo’s path, Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota confirmed last week, “A perfectly sober Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash. An intoxicated Steven Romeo could not avoid this crash. It was simply unavoidable from Romeo’s perspective.”
Pino will be charged with manslaughter for his dangerous maneuver.
But some damage may have already been done in Romeo’s case.
News outlets and some North Shore residents vilified the man long before the DA’s report was finalized. It’s no doubt a gut reaction for people to assume a drunk driver is at fault in a car crash, but this shows us why we should not be so quick to jump to conclusions. Sober people make mistakes or reckless maneuvers on the road every day, and this limo crash is an example of that.
The American criminal justice system is set up so that every citizen is innocent until proven guilty, and we should all keep that in mind for instances like this. No matter the mistakes or poor decisions a person has made, that person deserves fair, unbiased treatment. That goes for the courtroom as well as the public and the press.