Twenty people were killed over the weekend in a New York limo wreck. According to federal officials, this tragic event represents the nation’s deadliest transportation accident in nine years, with additional reports indicating that the limo had failed a safety inspection earlier that month.
New York Limo Wreck Kills Twenty
On October 6, 2018, a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling through Schoharie, NY, transporting seventeen passengers on a wine-and-beer-tasting tour in honor of passenger Amy Steenburg’s upcoming 30th birthday. Just before 2:00 p.m., according to New York State Police, the limo charged down a steep state road, blew past a stop sign, and veered into the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store & Café. There, the limo hit a parked, unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander and two pedestrians before landing in a shallow ravine beyond the road.
In total, the New York limo wreck killed a total of twenty people, including the driver and all of the passengers in the limo and the two pedestrians. Four sisters, two brothers, and at least three young couples were among those killed in the car accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is launching a comprehensive investigation into what it is calling the nation’s deadliest transportation accident in nine years, following a 2009 plane crash near Buffalo that killed fifty people.
“Twenty fatalities is just horrific,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “I’ve been on the board for twelve years and this is one of the biggest losses of life that we’ve seen in a long, long time.”
“Not supposed to be on the road”
The cause of this tragic New York limo wreck has yet to be determined, so it remains unclear whether it was the result of a vehicle malfunction or of driver error. Nevertheless, early reports indicate that the limo should not even have been in operation in the first place since it had recently failed a safety inspection.
In a press conference following the crash, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “That vehicle was inspected by the New York State Department of Transportation last month and failed inspection and was not supposed to be on the road.”
The owner of the limo has been identified as Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service in Gansevoort, NY. According to records from the United States Department of Transportation, the company has two drivers and three vehicles. In the last two years, the company’s vehicles have been inspected five times, and it has had four of its vehicles taken out of service.
The limo had reportedly undergone after-market modifications. Such modifications are a frequent source of concern to transportation safety experts because they can affect a vehicle’s structural integrity and roadworthiness.
In addition to the failed inspection, Cuomo noted that the driver at the center of the New York limo wreck was not properly credentialed to operate the vehicle.
“The driver needed what’s called a CDL,” said Cuomo, “a commercial driver license with a passenger endorsement. The driver did not have that proper license.”
Cuomo added that government officials were working on “a cease-and-desist order to stop Prestige Limousine from operating until the investigation is concluded.”