Limo deaths: The faces of America's worst horror crash in decade

Hugh Fox
October 9, 2018

"They were the Four Musketeers", he said, outside their parents home in Amsterdam, New York.

The owner of Prestige Limousine, Shahed Hussain, shares the same name and address as that of a former FBI informant who appeared as a witness in two U.S. cases in which prosecutors brought terrorism charges against defendants, transportation and federal court records showed. So was the limo's driver. Relatives said the group was headed to a birthday party.

On Monday New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, criticized Prestige for "putting a failed vehicle on the road".

"The driver needed what what's called a CDL, a commercial driver license with a passenger endorsement".

Cuomo told reporters at New York City's Columbus Day Parade on Monday that Prestige Limousine was being sent a cease-and-desist order to halt operations until authorities could investigate.

Jessica Kirby, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, told the New York Times that the limousine was probably traveling over 60 miles per hour as it came over the hill, and that the store was crowded with visitors from out of town because of the long holiday weekend.

Reports suggest the vehicle was transporting a wedding party. For example, in the state of MI, limousines in operation must pass a yearly inspection by a mechanic licensed by the state, according to the Limousine, Taxicab, And Transportation Network Company Act. "We've heard accidents before".

The firm says it pulled its cars from the road voluntarily.

Authorities have said they expect investigators to be "on the ground" for at least five days. "Prestige has a lot of questions to answer". Information on the vehicle's speed and braking were not immediately available, but officials had recovered the limo's airbag control module - a component that could shed light on those factors similar to an aircraft's "black box" data recorder.

"That company and that vehicle have been under scrutiny of [Department of Transportation] in the past", he said, declining to elaborate. The crash left no visible skid marks, but that might be due to misty weather or anti-lock brakes, Sumwalt said. Abeling said in an interview from upstate NY where her family was gathered.

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He said some seats remained anchored to the floor during the crash.

"At this time the identities of the victims are not being released pending the autopsy results and notification of the family members", said Fiore.

Since the reconstruction, three tractor-trailers have run through the same stop sign and into a field behind her business, she said.

Family and friends gathered at the crash site to mourn the victims. Some victims lived in the small city.

"I honestly think it was a more unsafe intersection than it was before", he told The New York Times, adding that it was a "nasty intersection".

Valerie Abeling told CNN her niece, Erin Vertucci and Erin's husband Shane McGowan, who were married in June, were among the victims in the limo.

"These were young couples, just got married and had their whole lives ahead of them".

On Monday morning, standing at the intersection where the crash happened, Karina Halse cried as she confirmed to ABC's "Good Morning America" that her sister, 26-year-old Amanda Halse, and her sister's husband, Patrick Cushing, were among those killed.

"My heart is completely sunken", Karina said.

"It's tragic. disgusting. I can't even begin to even explain".

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Among the dead are four sisters, three of whom were with their husbands, according to the siblings' aunt, Barbara Douglas. Because if you didn't know any of those involved directly, you know members of their families or the close friends. "She wanted to help them better their lives", he said.

Federal, state and local investigators flooded the tiny town of Schoharie to try to understand what happened. But we already know how current regulations, enforcement and the design of these vehicles affect the chances of something like this happening.

The Ford Excursion struck an unoccupied sport-utility vehicle after it went past a stop sign at an intersection in Schoharie on Saturday. She had been in another auto parked at the store, saw a body on the ground and heard people start screaming. "I've chosen this nonprofit because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope you'll consider contributing as a way to celebrate with me".

"I feel like it hasn't really sunk in yet".

Peter Goelz, former managing director of the NTSB predicts: "This is going to be a watershed event for the limousine industry". That's because after-market modifications often affect a vehicle's structural integrity and safety. It was not clear whether the state took any steps to do so.

A driver and the front-seat passenger are required to wear seat belts inside stretch limousines, but not the back-seat passengers, police said Sunday.

The crash was so catastrophic, it stunned even veteran safety experts.

"Twenty fatalities is just horrific", he said.

"I've been on the board for 12 years and this is one of the biggest losses of life ..." "More accidents than I can count".

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