New York State Police say the limousine involved in Saturday's crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie had failed inspection, and that the driver of the limousine wasn't licensed to drive that style of vehicle.
The crash, which happened Saturday afternoon at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A in Schoharie, killed 18 in the limo and two pedestrians. The National Transportation Safety Board said it's the worst passenger transportation accident in the country since 2009.
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State Police said Monday the victims "scrambled" to find a limo after a previous reservation fell through.
The company operating the limo, Prestige Limousine, is under a cease-and-desist order and cannot operate as the investigation is underway. The company's owner, Shahes Hussein, is currently out of the country, and could face criminal charges, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Police say Prestige Limousine has been "under scrutiny" by the state Department of Transportation in the past, and that they are still analyzing the air bag system and whether the limo, a 2001 Ford Excursion, was mechanically sound.
Attorneys representing Prestige, The Kindlon Law Firm of Albany, says in a statement the company is cooperating with the investigation.
"We have already met with State and Federal investigators, and plan to do so again, as it is our goal to provide answers as quickly as possible."
The NTSB will examine the limo to see how it was stretched and if it met federal standards. The intersection of Route 30 and 30A will also be evaluated. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the goal of his investigators is not only to determine how the crash happened, but also how this type of tragedy can be avoided in the future.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said earlier Monday he was unsure if the crash would lead to new regulations or laws enforcing limousine safety in New York, pointing to the protections already in place that were apparently violated.
"I don’t know if this a situation where we can find a new law or a new regulation," Cuomo said. "Sometimes the issue is the law worked fine and the regulation worked fine. They were just broken."
Cuomo suggested Prestige Limousine would face liability as a result, though he added the investigations — parallel efforts are being conducted by the federal NTSB and another by the State Police — are yet to conclude.
The names of the victims will not be released until all have been identified and their families have been notified. Police say many of the victims were active on social media and their cell phones prior to the crash and are asking for information from those who know of the posts.