Limo Company Had A Checkered Safety History (Video)
The company that provided the limousine that crashed in upstate New York on Saturday, killing 20 people, had repeatedly failed motor vehicle inspections and the driver did not have a proper license, according to state officials and federal transportation records. Media outlets are reporting that the company had their vehicles fail inspection over 80 times.
One of the victims had expressed concerns about the limousine in a text sent shortly before the crash, according to relatives and friends. Ms. Healey, 33, who had been the maid of honor at Ms. McGowan’s wedding this past summer, shared the texts with The New York Times.
“The motor is making everyone deaf,” wrote Ms. McGowan, before Ms. Healey asked where they had rented the car.
Ms. McGowan responded that she wasn’t sure, but then added, “When we get to brewery we will all b deaf.”
They never made it.
The New York Times News Service reports that the limousine accident devastated families, killing siblings and leaving young children without parents. The victims were friends and relatives including four sisters from one family and two brothers from another.
In a briefing at a regional headquarters of the State Police outside Albany, Robert L. Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that his agency’s inquiry was focusing on mechanical and human causes for the accident and that there was extensive damage to the front and left the side of the limousine.
He suggested that the engine of the Excursion had been thrust backward into the driver’s compartment, saying the evidence indicated a “high-energy impact.” But he declined to say definitively that the vehicle had been speeding; there were no skid marks leading to the crash site.
Investigators also said they had recovered an airbag control module, which was being analyzed for crash data.
State Police officials suggested that the company had been on their radar before the crash. “That company and that vehicle have been under scrutiny” in the past, said Maj. Robert Patnaude of the New York State Police. He also suggested that Mr. Hussain could face criminal charges. “That will be part of our investigation,” Major Patnaude said.
The investigation will also include autopsies of the victims, a tight-knit group that included four sisters, two brothers and several young couples. Those victims had yet to be identified by the authorities but heartbroken friends and relatives were already posting testimonials.
Mr. Hussain, the man whose name seems to be associated with the limousine company, posed as a wealthy Muslim radical and was the central prosecution witness in a 2004 federal sting focusing on a pizzeria owner and an imam at an Albany mosque. Six years later, Mr. Hussain, who posed as a terrorist, played a key role in the government’s case in a plot to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx.
He became an F.B.I. informant after being charged in 2002 with a scheme that involved taking money to illegally help people in the Albany area get driver’s licenses.
The police said that the limousine had been traveling downhill toward the intersection when it failed to stop, crossing the busy highway, glancing off the second vehicle in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel, a local shop, and striking the two pedestrians nearby. The limousine then crashed into a shallow ravine.