SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — The driver of a supersized limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people outside an upstate New York country store wasn’t properly licensed, and the limo failed a state safety inspection just last month and shouldn’t have been on the road, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.

The state ordered the owner, Prestige Limousine, shut down while an investigation continues into what Saturday’s wreck in Schoharie.

“In my opinion, the owner of this company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,” the governor said while attending a Columbus Day Parade in New York City. “Prestige has a lot of questions to answer.”

A call to the company’s office in Gansevoort rang unanswered Monday. Federal records show the company has undergone five inspections and had four vehicles pulled from service in the last two years.

The crash killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of the limousine, which was headed to a birthday party. Among the victims were four sisters.

Authorities didn’t say whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts, give the speed of the limo or speculate what caused the limo to run a stop sign at an intersection and slam into a parked SUV by the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe. Autopsies were being performed, including on the driver, to see if drugs were alcohol were a factor.

The intersection is a known danger spot that has long worried locals, even after an overhaul following a deadly 2008 accident there, according to Apple Barrel manager Jessica Kirby.

Since the reconstruction, three tractor-trailers have run through the same stop sign and into a field behind her business, she said. Officials worked with the state to outlaw heavy trucks, she said, but there are still wrecks.

“More accidents than I can count,” she said in an email. “We have been asking for something to be done for years.”

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) north of New York City when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, state police said. The limo went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel, a local institution and popular stop for autumn leaf-peepers. The impact killed two pedestrians standing nearby.

Relatives said the limousine was carrying four sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.

“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” their aunt, Barbara Douglas, said Sunday. She did not want to name them publicly but added: “They were wonderful girls. They’d do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family.”

Valerie Abeling, the aunt of victim Erin Vertucci, said her 34-year-old niece and her niece’s new husband, 30-year-old Shane McGowan, were victims.

“She was a beautiful, sweet soul; he was, too, they were very sweet,” Abeling said. “They were two very young, beautiful people” who “had everything going for them.”

A vigil will be held Monday night in …read more

Source:: Deseret News – World News

      

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Governor: Limo that crashed shouldn’t have been on the road

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