On Monday, October 8th, a limousine carrying 18 people crashed in upstate New York, killing all on board as well as two pedestrians. Authorities are calling the incident the most deadly traffic accident in decades, and new reports have come out showing that it may have been avoidable.
The vehicle was en route to a brewery in Cooperstown, which was about 40 miles away from the scene of the crash. It was transporting a number of couples who were headed there to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of their friends, who was also killed in the tragic accident. Sources close to the group say that the entire limousine was filled with young couples who “had their whole lives ahead of them,” making this a particularly tragic loss of life and the deadliest car accident in total since 2009.
As it was traveling southwest on State Route 30, the limo failed to stop at an intersection, colliding with a parked, unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander. Two pedestrians walking near the scene of the crash were killed.
Authorities were unable to immediately answer several questions related to the crash, such as whether the passengers were wearing seatbelts, whether the driver was intoxicated, and whether the vehicle’s brakes were working correctly. They also did not know if the limo was speeding at the time of the accident. According to traffic authorities, the speed limit at the intersection in question is 50 miles per hour.
New reports have surfaced that claim that the limousine was not properly serviced, and New York governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed these rumors in a press release shortly after the news broke, stating that it had failed inspection and should never have been on the road in the first place. In addition, Gov. Cuomo said that the driver “did not have the appropriate driver’s license to be operating that vehicle,” shedding new light on this horrific incident.
The 2001 Ford Excursion vehicle was converted into a limo by the company, which has since been identified as Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service in Gansevoort, New York. These sorts of “DIY” conversions have long worried authorities due to the inherent risk that aftermarket components may alter the structural integrity of a vehicle. All the same, not much is yet known about how or if this actually impacted those inside the vehicle at the moment of the crash.
Authorities are currently conducting a detailed investigation into the company and their fleet of vehicles. In a statement released shortly after the accident, Prestige Limousine said that they had voluntarily pulled their entire fleet of vehicles off of the road until the conclusion of the official investigation. The owner of the company, Shahed Hussain, has been located but is currently in Pakistan.
Authorities say that the investigation is still underway. They will be taking a detailed look into the circumstances of the accident in order to determine if any changes to local or state laws need to be made to prevent something like this from happening again.