The New York State Police and National Transportation Safety Board are working side by side as they continue to investigate the fatal limousine crash in Schoharie.
New York State Police announced on Monday they recovered the airbag control module from the limousine involved in Saturday’s fatal crash. It acts like the vehicle’s black box and will provide critical information, including how fast the limo was traveling at the time of impact.
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said they found extensive damage to the front left side of the 2001 Ford Excursion. Currently, there are no apparent skid marks at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 30A.
“If an entire engine block is moved and basically crushed back past the driver’s seat, that would indicate there was a lot of force and energy involved in that crash,” he said.
NYSP Major Robert Patnaude said the driver did not have the appropriate license to operate the limo and the limo company, Prestige Limo, has been under scrutiny by the New York State Department of Transportation in the past.
He went on to say the limo should never have been on the road after failing several inspections. But Lee Kindlon, the attorney representing Prestige Limo, said otherwise.
“We know the vehicle had been inspected and passed a series of state inspections, and it was safe to be on the road,” Kindlon said.
State police said they seized the remaining three vehicles from Prestige Limo and will be examining each one.
The NTSB is still trying to determine whether the limo in question was in compliance with state and federal regulations because they said the vehicle was so badly damaged in the crash, they’re still looking for the markings.
“There’s a great deal of information we need to seek back from manufacturers and other sources to find out what the federal motor vehicle safety standards were applicable to this vehicle,” NTSB Investigator Pete Kotowski said.
It was also announced the 17 passengers were in the limo as a last resort.
“I believe that they had tried to hire a different vehicle, but it cancelled for some reason so the subject in charge of this excursion scrambled and found this company to satisfy their needs for the day,” Major Patnaude said.
As for the victims, state police are still not officially releasing the identities as they are only three-fourths of the way through the autopsies. However, Patnaude said they know the victims were active on their cell phones prior to the crash texting and on Snapchat.
If you spoke with them at all, state police want to hear from you.