The deadliest transportation accident in the United States in nine years took place on Oct. 6 in Schoharie, New York, just under an hour west of Albany. The accident involved a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine that killed all 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians.
The crash occurred when the limousine drove through a stop sign and hit an unoccupied, parked car at the Apple Barrel Country Store. According to local resident Bill Waterson, the door panels and various parts of the limousine were covered in blood and strewn across the ground. As of 2010, total property damages from car accidents came in at $76.1 billion, making up 31% of all economic costs. In this accident, the financial costs mean almost nothing when compared to the lives lost.
Riding in the limousine was a group of friends and family members celebrating Amy Steenburg’s birthday. She was going to turn 30. According to the New York Times, the dead included two brothers, four sisters, and at least three young couples.
Every year approximately 3 million people are injured in car accidents throughout the United States, but this magnitude of transportation tragedy hasn’t happened since 2009. Nine years ago 50 people died as a result of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash in Buffalo, New York.
The driver of the limousine, Scott Lisincchia, died in the recent accident as well. According to a statement released by his family’s lawyers, they believe he was unknowingly driving a vehicle that was not safe or roadworthy. Lisincchia had allegedly told his wife of previous issues surrounding the company’s vehicles. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has claimed that Lisincchia was not properly licensed to operate the vehicle, but investigations have not yet confirmed or denied that claim.
The family’s belief of vehicle failure is supported by a safety inspection dated Sept. 4. According to these records, reviewed by ABC News, the limousine failed inspection. The records indicate that there was a malfunction with an anti-lock breaking system and that there were no corrections to defects noted on a previous inspection report. According to the New York State Department of Transportation, the limousine was placed out of service and the owner was warned not to operate the vehicle.
The owner and his family are now facing legal and criminal retributions. On Oct. 10, police arrested Nauman Hussain, the son of the owner of the limousine company, Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service. According to New York State police, Hussain was arrested during a traffic stop on Interstate 787 and is an “operator” for his father’s company. Charges are pending, but the state police spokeswomen has so far declined to say if the arrest was related to the deadly crash.
According to Lee Kindlon, who is representing Prestige, the arrest of Hussain is related to the accident. Kindlon does deny another claim made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the limo failed inspection, despite the corresponding inspection records. Kindlon maintains that the state DOT deemed the limo “roadworthy” just last week. A spokesman for the DOT denies that claim and strongly maintains that the DOT placed the vehicle out of service.