SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — Relatives of the limousine driver involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York said Tuesday they believe he was unwittingly assigned an unsafe vehicle.
The family of Scott Lisinicchia released a statement through a lawyer shortly after another attorney representing the limousine company, Prestige Limousine, said the driver might have been unfamiliar with the rural road.
Lisinicchia was driving the limousine that ran through a stop sign Saturday at the bottom of a T-intersection on a rural road 25 miles west of Albany. Two pedestrians and all 18 people in the limo celebrating a woman’s birthday died.
The statement from Lisinicchia’s lawyer said he would never have “knowingly put others in harm’s way” and cautioned against jumping to conclusions.
“The family believes that unbeknownst to him he was provided with a vehicle that was neither roadworthy nor safe for any of its occupants,” according to the statement from Grant & Longworth.
Prestige Limousine has been criticized for maintaining vehicles rife with violations and for employing a driver lacking a commercial license. The deadly crash also has shined fresh light on the controversial history of the business owner, a former FBI informant.
The limousine that ran the stop sign was cited for code violations Sept. 4, including a problem with the antilock brake system malfunction indicator system. Four of the Gansevoort, New York-based company’s limos were cited for 22 maintenance violations this year, though none were deemed critical.
“Those safety issues had been addressed and corrected,” attorney Lee Kindlon, who represents Prestige, told CBS News in a segment Tuesday. “Not all infractions are major. A lot of these things are minor and were fixed.”
Kindlon said he doesn’t think those infractions contributed to the crash.
He told the Times Union of Albany that the driver might have misjudged his ability to stop at the bottom of the long winding hill.
“I think he came up over that hill unfamiliar with territory. You just can’t the stop something like that,” Kindlon said. “I think the state has been warned about that intersection for years and the Department of Transportation is just looking to point a finger.”
One of the victims, Erin McGowan, texted a friend saying the party bus that was supposed to take them to Cooperstown had broken down on the way to pick them up and that the group obtained a stretch limo instead, the friend, Melissa Healey, told The New York Times. McGowan texted that the limo was in poor condition, with its motor “making everyone deaf.”
The limousine, built from a 2001 Ford Excursion, ran the stop sign, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a parked SUV before stopping in a wooded ditch.
Federal transportation records show Prestige is owned by Shahed Hussain, who worked as an informant for the FBI after the Sept. 11 attacks. He infiltrated Muslim groups by posing as a terrorist sympathizer in at least three investigations.
State police say Shahed Hussain is in Pakistan.
On Monday his son, Nauman Hussain, who has operated the limo company, met with state police …read more
Source:: Deseret News – World News