SCHOHARIE, N.Y. – We’re getting new information from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the deadliest U.S. transportation accident in almost a decade.
On Saturday afternoon, a 2001 Ford Expedition that had been modified into a limousine failed to stop at a stop sign in upstate New York. The limo, which was filled with 17 people celebrating a birthday party, crashed into a parked car.
These kinds of altered vehicles have worried officials, said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board. That’s because after-market modifications often affect a vehicle’s structural integrity and safety.
In the end, officials say 20 people were killed including all of the passengers, the driver and two pedestrians.
“Twenty fatalities is just horrific, “NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said. “I’ve been on the board for 12 years and this is one of the biggest losses of life … that we’ve seen in a long, long time. Colgan Air up at Buffalo killed 40 people, 50 people, but this is the most deadly transportation accident in this country since February 2009.”
Now, New York officials are saying the limousine should have never been on the road in the first place.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told NBC News that the limousine failed an inspection last month.
“The owner of the company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also added that the driver of the vehicle did not have a commercial driver’s license with a passenger endorsement, which is required to drive vehicles like limousines.
At this point, officials have not determined whether the crash was the fault of the driver or a malfunction of the vehicle.
It’s not clear whether the driver was speeding, whether the brakes were working, or whether the passengers were wearing seat belts, said Chris Fiore of the New York State Police. In these kinds of limousines, rear passengers are not required to wear seat belts, Goelz said.