Past Limo Crash Findings Playing Into Proposed Rules

Posted on October 23, 2018
A 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine similar to the one involved in the fatal Oct. 6 crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (LCT/ file photo)

A 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine similar to the one involved in the fatal Oct. 6 crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (LCT/ file photo)

Here are the latest news summaries of interest to the luxury ground transportation industry from media reports:

  • Limo Safety Recommendations Ignored: A year after a July 2015 limousine crash on Long Island, N.Y., a grand jury released its 156-page report that included 10 pages of conclusions and recommendations. But many of its prescriptions, including calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to convene a task force on stretch limousine regulations, were never enacted. At least two of the recommendations would have affected the modified 2001 Ford Excursion that crashed in Schoharie County on Oct. 6, killing 20 people. Albany Times-Union article here
  • Federal Investigators Get Full Access To Wrecked Limo: The National Transportation Safety Board is getting some access to the limousine involved in the Oct. 6 crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people as it conducts its investigation, officials said Friday. Albany Times-Union article here
  • Why Is Investigation Taking So Long? Many are asking for more answers but New York State Police are still deep into its criminal investigation while the NTSB stands in the wings. Every investigation is different and State Police cite reasons some of them take more time than others. Although they couldn't talk specifically about the tragic accident, as it is an open investigation, they provided some insights into the process. News10ABC report here
  • Limo had "passed" DMV inspection sticker:

    According to the Albany Times Union, the 2001 Ford Excursion limo was somehow able to get a regular inspection sticker from a DMV. The limo should have been subject to a thorough review from a state DOT inspector, however, instead it received a "passed" DMV inspection sticker. WHEC article here

  • Call for more regulation: 

    Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, called on the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate all future limousine crashes nationwide in order to gather the information needed to create stricter safety regulations for the vehicles.

    “Stretch limos exist in a gray area. They’re not a car. They’re not a bus. And that’s the problem,” Mr. Schumer said at a news conference in Manhattan on Oct. 14. “They fall through the regulatory cracks and there are no safety standards for them. That has to change.” New York Times article here

  • Former driver recalls stretch condition: A local limo driver claims that in the past he had driven the limousine involved in the fatal crash and it was unsafe. He says that he had problems with the vehicle three years ago and was nervous to get behind its wheel. Jared Bentley said it wasn’t uncommon for his boss, who shared a garage with Prestige to borrow vehicles if one of his broke down, including a 2001 Stretch Excursion limo which he believes is the same one involved in the fatal Schoharie crash. Bentley said he didn't feel safe and was terrified of getting behind the wheel of the limousine. "The weight of these vehicles is very high and you couldn’t stop in this vehicle, you just couldn’t stop. You really had to put your foot on the brake.” He claims his company and Prestige did the bare minimum of repairs and that the limo even broke down while he was transporting local high schoolers to a prom.
  • Investigative details: The National Transportation Safety Board remains in Schoharie on Thursday, working to conduct its investigation into what went wrong in the Oct. 6 limousine crash that killed 20 people.
    Spectrum News is told their preliminary report — meaning the immediate things they learn — will not be made available until at least next week. According to the NTSB's website, prelimary reports are usually made available within a few days of the incident. We aren't sure exactly why this report will take longer, but we do know what they are looking into. At a presser held either this week, NTSB officials said they are working to determine the condition of the limousine before it crashed; how the layout of the seats may of contributed to the severity of injuries; and if there were enough seat belts for passengers. Spectrum News article here
  • Company manager released on bail: As suspect Nauman Hussain of Prestige Limousine was being processed at a trooper barracks in Latham, attorney Lee Kindlon, who represents Prestige, said his client was innocent. The younger Hussain pleaded not guilty during his appearance Wednesday night in Schoharie Town Court, Kindlon told CNN affiliate Spectrum News. Hussain posted a $150,000 bond and surrendered his US passport, according to his attorney. Asked if he knew whether police planned to arrest Shahed Hussain, Kindlon replied, "I had no idea that this guy was going to be charged today." Shahed Hussain handled the company's day-to-day operations, including maintenance, Kindlon said, while Nauman Hussain handled some marketing and booking, answered the phone and had "very little involvement" in the company. CNN article here
    • Suspect Nauman Hussein, 28, of Prestige Limousine has pleaded innocent to charges of negligent homicide related to the Oct. 6 limousine crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people. (photo: New York State Police)

      Suspect Nauman Hussein, 28, of Prestige Limousine has pleaded innocent to charges of negligent homicide related to the Oct. 6 limousine crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people. (photo: New York State Police)

      Arrest made:
      The son of the owner of limousine company in the deadly crash that killed 20 people on Saturday was arrested Oct. 10 by State Police and charged with criminal negligent homicide. Nauman Hussain was taken into custody earlier Wednesday morning, his attorney Lee Kindlon confirmed to the USA TODAY Network's Albany Bureau. State Police later confirmed Hussain, operator of Prestige Limo, was taken into custody following a controlled traffic stop on Interstate 87 near Albany. Police said charges are pending. USA Today article here
  • Malfunctioning brakes? The vehicle failed a Sept. 4 safety inspection in part due to an anti-lock breaking system (ABS) malfunction indicators for the hydraulic brake system, according to records reviewed by ABC News. State transportation officials declined to immediately elaborate on the notation. Such a malfunction could mean that there is a problem either with the brake system or simply with the indicator light connected to said system. The record from the Sept. 4 inspection also notes that there is a violation for “failure to correct defects noted on previous inspection report," although it did not detail those prior failures.
  • No cause yet: The cause of the accident is still under investigation. It is not yet known if it was caused by a vehicle malfunction, operator error or some other factor. Investigators have yet to determine whether the driver tried to brake. The wreck left no skid marks investigators could see, but that might be due to misty weather or anti-lock brakes, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. Investigators were conducting autopsies, including on the driver, to see if drugs or alcohol were factors, and the NTSB was also looking into whether the limo had any mechanical problems. ABC 7 New York article here
  • Prior record: State Police confirmed Oct. 10 that driver Scott Lisincchia, 53, had been stopped by a state trooper in Saratoga Springs in late August after he had driven 11 people in the same vehicle and cited for operating it without a proper license.
  • Driver disclosed fleet vehicle problems: The family of the driver of the limousine that crashed in upstate New York, killing 20 people, believe the vehicle "was neither roadworthy or safe," the family's lawyers said. The driver, Scott Lisincchia, 53, died in the accident along with the 17 others inside the car and two pedestrians. Richard Burke, a spokesperson for the Lisinicchia family, told ABC News that Lisinicchia had previously told his wife about issues with the company's vehicles. He said Lisinicchia's wife "told me that he had complained to her regarding the condition of some of the vehicles. In fact they said that one time he was driving one of the vehicle’s and a muffler fell off with clients in the car and he had to stop the car, get out of the car, remove the muffler and move it to the side of the roadway." Burke said that Lisinicchia had worked as a driver of trucks, tractor trailers, and dump trucks.
  • Company: The company that operated the stretch limousine is Prestige Limousine, a small company doing business out of the Crest Hotel and Suites in Gansevoort, N.Y., a town north of Albany, according to a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation cited in the New York Times.
  • Owner: The owner of the limousine company, Shahed Hussain, has the same name and address as that of a former informant for the F.B.I. who has testified in two prominent terrorism cases, according to public records. A law enforcement official suggested that his son may operate the limousine company. The State Police said they had seized three vehicles, including another limousine, from the company and believed that Mr. Hussain was outside of the U.S. New York Times article here
  • Inspection failures: Prestige Limo had failed a recent state inspection and did not have appropriate federal certification, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday, according to a USA Today article. The Ford Excursion limo involved in Saturday's crash failed a state inspection last month. Vehicles that cross state lines or go into Canada must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and meet requirements including inspection record-keeping, driver qualification and medical examination requirements. The Ford Excursion limo did not have this certification either, Cuomo said. Federal transportation records show Prestige, which currently had three vehicles, had failed inspections, although the records did not provide details about the failures.
  • Texted passenger complaint: Passenger Erin McGowan had texted her aunt Valerie Abeling to say the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine was in ‘terrible condition’ minutes before she and new husband Shane died in the crash. “The motor is making everyone deaf,” McGowan texted.
  • Stretch limousine type: From LCT: The Ford Excursion was once part of the QVM (Qualified Vehicle Modifiers) program, which sets strict OEM-based build and safety standards for vehicles cut and stretched into limousines under the Lincoln brand. At the time, the Excursion could be stretched up to 140 inches, which is the SUV maximum length under the QVM program. The exact length and modifier of the super-stretched model involved in the Oct. 6 crash is not immediately known. It was carrying 18 passengers.

Related LCT background article: What Is Considered Safest Stretch?

  • Ford Excursion background: From Wikipedia: The Ford Excursion is a heavy duty (Class 2), extended-length sport utility vehicle that was produced by Ford from 1999 to 2005, launched for 2000 in the North American market. The longest and heaviest SUV ever to enter mass production, the Excursion was based upon the Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck. review

Media reports: USA Today; New York Times; The Washington Post; Metro U.K.; Albany Times Union; The Hill

Related Topics: accidents, criminal incidents, fatalities, law enforcement, limo crashes, New York operators, passenger safety

Comments ( 17 )
  • Scott Nelson

     | about 2 years ago

    Read my messages above first. I'm troubled that I as well as a few others have concluded CARBON MONOXIDE causing this wreck. The FBI investigation should really take our thoughts into consideration and give us some credit, or I might start to think they think we are just stupid people. When I spoke with the FBI, before he hung up, I heard him say something rude to another agent about my call. Something about us civilians being able to contact them about our thoughts was ridiculous. I would not have contacted them if I didn't have a good speculation. The FBI is a trained educated group of people, yet solving this mystery may take more experience and knowledge, that only few can provide. I'd like a little credit from the FBI is all, and still waiting for your conclusion.

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