Limo in Deadly Crash Failed Safety Inspection
The limousine that crashed and killed 20 people in central New York on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 had recently failed inspection and was driven by an improperly licensed driver according to a CNN report.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying investigators still don’t know what caused the crash in Schoharie, New York, the deadliest U.S. transportation crash since 2009.
Officials do not yet know why the limo drove through a stop sign and crashed into a parked SUV, killing all 17 passengers, the limo’s driver and two pedestrians.
“We don’t know the cause of the accident, if it was a vehicle malfunction, if it was a driver malfunction (or) a driver error,” Cuomo said.
The passengers, headed to a birthday party, were riding in a 2001 Ford Excursion converted into a limousine. Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said those modified vehicles have long since worried safety officials. Goelz said those after-market modifications can negatively affect a vehicle’s safety.
Cuomo said the vehicle involved in the crash had failed a New York State Department of Transportation inspection in September 2018 and “was not supposed to be on the road.”
Cuomo added the limo driver lacked a commercial driver’s license with passenger endorsement, needed to legally drive a limousine.
CNN identified Prestige Limousine Chauffer Service of Gansevoort, New York as the crashed limo’s operator. U.S. Department of Transportation records indicated the company has two drivers and three vehicles currently, and has had four vehicles taken out of service.
The company issued a statement Monday saying it “extends its deepest condolences to the family members and friends of those who tragically lost their lives on Saturday. We are performing a detailed internal investigation to determine the cause of the accident and the steps we can take in order to prevent future accidents.”
Cuomo said state officials will issue a cease-and-desist order preventing Prestige Limousine from operating until the investigation concludes.
New York state police officials stated they seized three of the company’s other vehicles in addition to the crashed limo. The limo, according to NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, was configured for 19 passenger seats. Some of those seats had lap-shoulder belts, but investigators did not know if all seats were so equipped or if any of the passengers were using them.
Sumwalt said limo rear passengers are not required to wear seatbelts under New York law.