The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its long-awaited preliminary report regarding the deadly limousine crash that happened in October in Schoharie.
The report indicates that the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine — which crashed at the intersection of State Routes 30 and 30-A on the afternoon of October 6, 2018, killing 20 people — was lengthened "to increase the seating capacity to 18 occupants" and was subsequently fitted with seats with lap belts that "oriented passengers away from a traditional forward-facing seating configuration."
According to the report, the original wheelbase of this 2001 Ford Excursion was about 11 feet long. At the time of the crash, the report says the limo had been stretched by 15 feet, more than doubling its original size.
“That was done before Prestige brought the limo," said Lee Kindlon, attorney for Nauman Hussain, the operator of Prestige Limousine. "And trying to figure out who made the modifications remains an open question.”
Hussain been charged with criminally negligent homicide, accused of putting an unsafe limo on the road.
Lack of access to the limo has prevented the NTSB from completing its investigation. The preliminary report is usually made available within a few days of the crash. But the NTSB was not granted access to the limo until last month, when an agreement was reached with Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery.
The prosecutor did not return calls for a comment.
The limo was recently moved into a storage structure at New York State Police headquarters in Latham, per an agreement between the NTSB, Schoharie County district attorney's office, the NYSP and the defense team of Prestige Limousine's operator.
The preliminary report states that investigation continues on the modifications to the limo, as well as its condition the day of the crash; seat belt usage by those in the limo; and state oversight of Prestige Limo.
"All aspects of the [crash] remain under investigation as the NTSB focuses on determining the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes," read the report. "Updates to the investigation will be provided as more information is developed."