Elected officials spend Remembrance Day with families of limo crash victims

Elected officials spend Remembrance Day with families of limo crash victims

Town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, left, county Legislator Rob Trotta, second from left, and state Sen. Jim Gaughran, right back row, remembered the tragic loss of four young women with their parents Nancy Dimonte, Paul and Suzanne Schulman, Carol Belli, Mindy and Howie Grabina, Steven and Felicia Baruch and Susan Arundel. The group met at Smithtown High School West where a sign is dedicated to their daughters. Photo from Town of Smithtown

On Saturday, July 17, Town of Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim joined state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D-Northport), and Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) to present the families of the Cutchogue limo crash victims with signed copies of the New York State legislation improving road safety.

Gaughran presented the families with the New York State bills, which they devoted years advocating for, improving limo and bus safety. The following day marked six years since the community was devastated by the limo crash that critically injured Olga Lipets, Melissa Crai, Alicia Arundel and Joelle DiMonte and tragically killed four Smithtown young women, Lauren Baruch, Amy Grabina, Brittany Schulman and Stephanie Belli.

“I’d like to give a special thanks to Senator Gaughran who made it a point to hand deliver the signed legislation, which he also co-sponsored,” Wehrheim said. “I’d especially like to acknowledge all eight families who led a massive five-year effort to reform limo safety laws. Truth be told, all of New York has these eight remarkable families to thank for making our roads safer. They became the voice for their daughters and their friends, they sought out the Schoharie [limo crash] families after that horrific day to offer comfort and support. They turned grief, heartbreak and frustration into a life saving effort that will benefit countless generations. It’s been an honor to advocate for limo safety by your sides. While these small victories can never replace the lives of our four angels … I can give my word to each of you … this administration will always honor their memory. Lauren, Amy, Brittany and Stephanie will never be forgotten.”

The two bills that were presented to the families on Saturday make it illegal for limousines to make U-turns and the second requires limousines to use commercial GPS devices. Additional legislation that had previously passed includes seatbelt requirements which requires motor vehicles converted into stretch limousines (on or after January 1, 2021) to have at least two safety belts for the front seat and at least one safety belt in the rear for each passenger the vehicle was designed to hold. Additionally, the legislation requires all stretch limousines to be retrofitted to include seatbelts by January 1, 2023. The New Commercial Driver’s License Requirements for Limousine Drivers bill requires individuals operating limousines carrying nine or more passengers, (including the driver) to have a passenger endorsed commercial driver’s license.

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