Fatal Limo Crash Investigation Reveals Multiple Safety Violations
Fatal Limo Crash Investigation Reveals Multiple Safety Violations

Last month, a stretch limousine carrying a group of friends heading to a birthday celebration in upstate New York crashed into a parked car, killing all 18 occupants of the vehicle and two pedestrians. It was the deadliest U.S. transportation accident in nine years. While the limousine company is under fire for legal violations, the tragedy is also drawing attention to the dangers of modified limousines and the troubles with regulating these vehicles.

The fatal limo crash occurred in the small town of Schoharie, N.Y on Saturday, October 6. The Schoharie town supervisor Alan Tavenner said the intersection where the accident occurred is a notoriously dangerous area, which transportation officials had unsuccessfully tried to fix in the past. The intersection is at the bottom of a steep hill on State Route 30, and is only marked with a stop sign. The manager of a country store near the intersection said there have been several accidents involving tractor-trailers traveling down the hill too fast.

Limousine Fails Multiple Safety Inspections

Clearly the intersection was dangerous, but what about the limousine? Officials say the vehicle was a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine. The vehicle was owned by Prestige Limousine, which investigators found has an extensive record of safety violations. A few days after the fatal limo crash, authorities arrested the company’s operator, Nauman Hussain, charging him with criminally negligent homicide.

Hussain received written violations earlier this year from State Police and state Department of Transportation inspectors. The superintendent of the State Police stated that the limo should not have been on the road, as it had repeatedly failed inspections. It had failed two state inspections in the past seven months, and should have been off the road until the defects were fixed. An inspection done in September revealed that the limo, which had 18 seats, was not certified to carry more than 10 occupants. It was also found to have a dangling brake line, and the owner was cited for not addressing defects that were found in earlier inspections. Additionally, the limo driver allegedly lacked the appropriate license to operate the vehicle.

Are Limousine Regulations Sufficient?

Vehicles like the one involved in the fatal crash are built from cars or SUVs, and they are not subject to the same rigorous federal safety standards as other passenger cars and trucks. The drivers of these limos are required to wear seat belts, but there is no requirement for passengers to wear seat belts.

Moreover, limousines such as the one involved in this crash are converted after-market. They are modified by being cut in half and adding a centerpiece to “stretch” them out. These modifications are not tested for by the automakers, and they can greatly affect the way the vehicle handles, as well as its ability to handle the impact of a crash.

Some states have implemented regulations that go beyond the federal requirements—including New York, which has some of the strictest regulations for stretch limousines. However, despite failing multiple inspections, this defective limousine was still operating. Perhaps this signals a need for stronger enforcement of regulations.

How Will Regulators Respond?

In 2013, five women were killed when a stretch limo they were traveling in caught fire near San Francisco. Two years later, four women died in a limo crash while on a winery tour in Long Island. And last month, 20 people lost their lives in this devastating accident in Schoharie. In the wake of the deadliest transportation-related crash in the U.S. in nearly a decade, it may be time for federal regulators to update limousine regulations, and to keep dangerous vehicles that fail safety inspections off the road.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the crash victims. Converted limousines are not subject to the stringent safety regulations that other vehicles are, and this has led to several deadly crashes. How many more of these crashes need to happen before changes are made?” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.

Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured in an auto accident and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.

DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.

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