Lawyer for Limo Company Denies Safety Violations Led to Deadly New York Crash

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
October 10, 2018USshare

The lawyer for the company operating a stretch limousine that didn’t stop at a stop sign and slammed into a parked car in New York on Oct. 6, killing 20, disputed a charge by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that safety violations led to the crash.

Cuomo told reporters on Oct. 8 that the limo, a stretch 2001 Ford Excursion created by cutting apart a regular SUV and lengthening it, failed an inspection in September and wasn’t supposed to be on the road.

“The owner of the company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,” Cuomo said, adding that the limo’s braking and suspension systems failed inspection and the vehicle also didn’t have a federal certification showing it was properly extended, reported Syracuse.com.

In addition, the driver of the limo, who was also killed in the crash, was not licensed to drive a limousine, Cuomo said.

people at a candlelight vigil
Mourners at a candlelight vigil for the victims of a limousine accident, in Amsterdam, N.Y., on Oct. 8, 2018. (Cindy Schultz/Reuters)
graphic of the intersection of limosine crash
All 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians were killed. (AP)

Lawyer Denies

But Lee Kindlon, attorney for Prestige Limousine, the company operating the vehicle that crashed, said the infractions didn’t lead to the crash.

“I don’t think that these infractions were what led to the tragedy,” he told CBS, claiming that the safety issues “had been addressed and corrected.”

Kindlon claimed in another interview with ABC that the inspection failed, but over “minor things” such as “windshield wipers.” But documents obtained by the broadcaster show that one of the violations was for “ABS malfunction indicators for hydraulic brake system.”

Overall, Prestige has had 22 violations in the past two years, prompting New York state officials to try to shut down the company even before the crash.

Limousine Crash Site
Debris is scattered over an area at the site of a fatal crash on Oct. 6, 2018, in Schoharie, N.Y, pictured here on Oct. 7, 2018. (Hans Pennink/AP Photo)

‘Terrible Condition’

Cuomo said on Monday that Shahed Hussain, a former FBI informant who owns Prestige, could face legal consequences for putting the limo on the road despite the inspection failures.

Officials said the limo was descending a hill on Route 30 in Schoharie and failed to stop at an intersection, a T-junction, where there’s a stop sign. It then flew across the street and slammed into an unoccupied and parked SUV in a parking lot; two pedestrians, who were standing nearby, were killed.

The group of 18 inside the limo, who were all killed, were on some kind of bus at first but switched to the limo after the first vehicle broke down. After the switch, just 20 minutes before she died, Erin Vertucci send a text message to her cousin saying the limo was in “terrible condition.”

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