Authorities say the driver of a car that struck a hotel shuttle van near Boston's airport and killed two visitors from Texas was drunk.
Steven Birenbaum, of Swampscott, was released on $5,000 bail after pleading not guilty at his arraignment Monday to several charges, including two counts each of manslaughter and motor vehicle homicide while driving drunk. Prosecutors said the 27-year-old was also under the influence of marijuana and prescription medications at the time of the accident.
Birenbaum was operating a Subaru Legacy at speeds of almost 80 mph, prosecutors said, when he struck the rear of a Hampton Inn airport shuttle on Route 90 east at about 1 a.m. on Aug. 31, causing both vehicles to collide with highway barriers. The van was heading for the hotel after picking up travelers from Logan International Airport.
Two van passengers, 59-year-old Joseph Rodriguez and 47-year-old Sandra Arreola, both of El Paso, Texas, were ejected and died at the scene. Two other passengers and the shuttle driver were hospitalized with less serious injuries.
Toxicology screens revealed the presence of THC in Birenbaum's blood and urine, as well as a blood-alcohol content of .15, nearly double the legal limit of .08.
Birenbaum's attorney, Joseph Moynihan, called the crash an "unfortunate, tragic accident" and said his client is remorseful.
His next court date is Feb. 22.