Limo Crash That Killed 20 People in Upstate NY Failed Inspection and Driver Wasn’t Properly Licensed
The tragic limo crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people may be due to the limousine company’s use of a car that failed inspection.
The most fatal U.S. auto accident of the last ten years occurred in the small New York town of Schoharie on Saturday. Twenty people were killed instantly in the deadly limousine crash. The driver and all 17 passengers in the limo died, including two pedestrians. Tragically, new information has emerged indicating the driver and the limousine company may be to blame for the unfortunate incident.
New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed on Monday that the driver did not have the necessary driver’s license required to operate the limousine and that the limo itself had recently failed inspection and was not supposed to be on the road. The governor further disclosed that the limo was not a normal limo; it was a 2001 Ford Expedition converted into a limo with an unusual structure.
State Police Officials Had Seized the Limo Operator’s Vehicles for Infractions in the Past
The unnamed driver was supposed to have a commercial driver license with passenger endorsement, known as a CDL license, for that type of limo, but he did not. The limo is owned by Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service in Gansevoort, New York. Investigations by the U.S. Department of Transportation showed the limo company has only two drivers and three vehicles. The company has had four vehicles taken out of service since it commenced operation.
The company in a statement expressed “its deepest condolences to the family members and friends of those who tragically lost their lives” in the crash. They said they have voluntarily removed their fleet of vehicles from the road in order to perform internal investigations into the cause of the accident with the aim of preventing reoccurrence in the future.
To ensure the limo company is not on the road, Gov. Cuomo said state officials will be issuing a “cease-and-desist order to stop Prestige Limousine from operating until the investigation is concluded.”
The crash occurred outside an Apple Barrel Country Store & Café where the limo plowed into a stop sign and then into a parked SUV before hitting a tree. National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumalt reported the limo suffered extensive frontal damage to the driver’s side, with the car’s engine pushed out of place into the passenger compartment, signifying the crash was a “high energy impact.”
Major Robert Patnaude of the State Police said the Department of Transportation had dealt with Prestige Limousine and its fleet of vehicles in the past. He said state police officials had seized three of the company’s vehicles plus the converted limo involved in the crash.
People Lost Sisters, Mothers, Friends, Neighbors, Parents and Colleagues in the Unfortunate Crash
Investigations are still ongoing to determine if the passengers were wearing their seat belts when the crash occurred. In New York rear limo passengers are not required to wear seatbelts. Since the road was damp at the time, it could not be immediately determined if the limo had skidded or left skid marks on the road. NTSB is also trying to ascertain the actual speed of the limo before the crash, as well as the driver’s fitness levels and any other company compliance issues with state and federal regulations, plus records of prior crashes.
The 17 dead passengers were on their way to an upstate New York brewery for a birthday party before the crash occurred. Killed in the crash were four sisters – Mary Dyson, Abby Jackson, Allison King and Amy Steenburg – together with Amy’s husband Axel Steenburg. Also killed were Erin Vertucci McGowan and husband Shane McGowan, who just got married in four months ago. The newlyweds died together. There was Amanda Halse who was killed with along with her boyfriend and two married sisters also died in the crash, leaving behind three children.