The four women killed when an alleged drunk driver T-boned the limousine they were riding in on Long Island while touring vineyards over the weekend are being mourned by friends and family.
Brittney Schulman, 23, and Lauren Baruch, 24, both of Smithtown; Stephanie Belli, 23, of Kings Park; and Amy Grabina, 23, of Commack, were identified as the women killed in the crash. They were among the group of eight celebrating one of the women's birthdays.
Baruch's best friend Dana Carlino was shaken Monday as she recalled being invited out to the excursion.
"Who wouldn't want to go to the wineries with your girlfriends, you know?" said Carlino, 23. "I for some reason just opted out and decided to go to work instead."
Carlino and Baruch met at summer camp 11 years ago. Carlino said Baruch was a bright student and worked three jobs, one as a nanny, another at a Hispanic cultural center, another at a cafe. She loved to make breakfast for her, she said, pancakes and mimosas.
Carlino learned of the accident from her friend's Facebook page.
"I'm mad at the whole situation. I'm never going to get my best friend back," Carlino told NBC 4 New York over the phone Monday.
Baruch's last words to her before the fatal excursion were "I love you," Carlino said.
"I feel like it could have been me. It should have been me," she said.
Steven Romeo, 58, of Bethpage, pleaded not guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated from his hospital bed at Eastern Long Island Hospital, about an hour's drive from Stony Brook University Hospital, where three of the four women who survived the crash were in various stages of recovery Monday.
The injured women were identified as Joelle Dimonte, 25, of Elwood, Melissa Angela Crai, 23, of Scarsdale, Alicia Arundel, 24, of Setauket, and Olga Lipets, 24, of Brooklyn. A young bride was among the survivors. Spota said all four surviving women had "very serious physical injuries."
A spokesman for Stony Brook University Hospital said Monday Crai remained in serious condition, Lipets was in fair condition and Arundel was in good condition. Dimonte is out of the hospital.
The limo that was driving the eight women tried to make a U-turn at the intersection of County Route 48 and Depot Lane when Romeo's truck plowed into them, Town of Southold police said. The limo driver told authorities he was turning to head westbound to take the women back to Smithtown and did not see the red pickup truck in the westbound lanes of the highway, Spota said.
A witness heading eastbound who reported seeing the "entire crash" -- including the limo making the U-turn, the pickup truck driving westbound and the impact -- told authorities the limo "was turning right in front of the truck and the crash occurred at that point," according to Spota.
The limousine driver showed no evidence of being influenced by drugs or alcohol at the scene, Spota said, and chemical tests confirmed he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident. Spota said U-turns at the accident site are not prohibited, but limo drivers have been getting summonses for the way they are making the turns. They have to "swing way out" and "many are virtually blocking the two westbound lanes" as they turn around, Spota said.
Romeo had minor injuries, Spota said, which contrasts previous statements Romeo's lawyer, Daniel O'Brien, had made that indicated his client was seriously hurt in the crash, which O'Brien called "a tough situation."
The limo driver, Carlos Pino, 58, of Bethpage, was also taken to an area hospital with injuries but was expected to survive.
Funeral services for Grabina are scheduled to be held Tuesday.