Federal investigators have released a report on the limo crash that killed 20 people in Upstate New York in October, but the cause of the crash is yet to be determined.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) preliminary report of the horrific Oct. 6 crash offers little insight into the potential causes but provides some details that investigators garnered after securing access to the wrecked limousine from the Schoharie County District Attorney’s office.
According to the NTSB, the limo was a 2001 Ford Excursion with a wheelbase of 11 feet that had been modified to a length of 26 feet “to increase seating capacity to 18 occupants.” The stretch limo was then fitted with seats that faced passengers “away from a traditional forward-facing seating configuration.” The vehicle was equipped with lap belts.
The NTSB is still trying to determine what person or company made the modifications to the limo. When Prestige Limousine bought the limo, the modifications had already been made.
The limo was carrying 17 passengers and the driver when just before 2 p.m. it blew through a three-way intersection of NY-30 and NY-30A and into a restaurant parking lot at what witnesses described as a high rate of speed.
The limo struck a stationary Toyota Highlander SUV in the restaurant parking lot, killing two of three people who were walking toward the parked vehicle at the time. The limo then crossed the parking lot, plummeted into a ravine and crashed head-on with the earthen embankment on the opposite side, killing all 18 people inside.
According to Albany, New York’s Spectrum News, the NTSB’s investigation of the limo crash was delayed by months because the Schoharie County District Attorney’s office prevented the agency’s access to the vehicle, which remains impounded in a storage unit at New York State Police headquarters in Latham, New York.
The NTSB normally completes a preliminary report within days of an accident. However, the agency was only allowed a visual inspection of the vehicle late last month. The DA’s office and the state are focused on a criminal investigation of Prestige Limousine’s owner, Nauman Hussain, who allowed an improperly licensed driver to operate an “unserviceable vehicle.” Mr. Hussain faces charges of criminally negligent homicide. He has pleaded not guilty.