A criminal investigation is now underway following the limousine crash in Schoharie, New York that killed 20 people.
At New York State Police Troop G headquarters in Latham Monday afternoon, Major Robert Patnaude said investigators will determine if there’s any criminal culpability for the limousine’s owner, Shahed Hussain.
“If there is we’ll hold him accountable for it,” said Patnaude.
Hussain, owner of Prestige Limousine in nearby Saratoga County, is out of the country, in Pakistan.
The 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine carrying 18 people, all of whom died in the crash, is being evaluated by the National Transportation Safety Board. Two pedestrians were also killed.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Prestige is cooperating with the NTSB as investigators seek more information.
“Records of prior crashes, their management of drivers, their fatigue management program, vehicle maintenance, driver fitness for duty. We want to look at everything we can for the company that operated that limousine,” said Sumwalt.
Major Patnaude said the SUV-style limousine being examined has enough seats to be classified as a bus, requiring a special driver’s license endorsement for carrying passengers.
“The operator of the limo involved in this crash required the P endorsement, which he did not have,” said Patnaude.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday the state is issuing a cease and desist order to stop Prestige from operating until an investigation is concluded. He said the vehicle failed a recent safety inspection.
“The 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.”
Three Prestige vehicles have been seized.
Investigators will examine the vehicle’s so-called “black box” to see if any information can be gathered related to the crash. NTSB staff is expected to be in upstate New York throughout the week.