SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Several witnesses have shed light on the history of the 2001 Ford Excursion, the modified stretch limousine involved in the 2018 crash that killed 20 people.
Donald Cottrell, the Garage Manager for Advantage Transportation Group, testified. The 2001 Ford Excursion was part of the company’s fleet prior to being sold to the Hussain family.
Cottrell said he did everything by the book with that limo, including monthly inspections and periodic brake checks, in addition to bi-annual DOT certified inspections. He also spoke about the sale of the excursion limo to the Hussain family.
Cottrell said he walked Nauman Hussain, and his brother, through different rules and regulations they needed to follow, how to contact DOT, even testifying that he told them to do things the right way and “not to play around with DOT.”
Hussain is charged with 20 counts of manslaughter and 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide.
Kim Lisinicchia, the wife of Scott Lisinicchia, the driver involved in that fatal crash, took to the stand for brief, but emotional, testimony. She said she would occasionally join her husband on rides and described her last memories of seeing him. She said he invited her to go with him on his ride that day, but she opted to stay home. She said her husband cared about his job, the people he drove, and was careful on the roads.
District Attorney, Susan Mallery, called several eyewitnesses of the limo on the day of the crash to the stand. One witness, Matthew Hellar, was driving behind the limo and said he observed a “strong burning brake smell” as he was following the limo near Fonda.
Jaclyn Schnurr, wife of Brian Hough and daughter of James Schnurr, two pedestrians who were killed in the crash, testified she was meeting her family at the Apple Barrel on Route 30A for lunch before a family wedding when she saw a white blur coming towards her car.
She said she remembers being on the ground and running towards the restaurant, not knowing where her husband and father were at the time. She said she kept looking at her own hands in shock she was still physically there in the moments following the crash.
Later on in the day, Erika Hock, the lead investigator with the New York State Police, took the stand. Hock described the gruesome scene as she arrived and attempted to help first responders and victims.
Hock said she received a tip early-on in the investigation that the 2001 Ford Excursion limo was listed on Craigslist just days before the crash happened. Hock said she conducted a search of Hussain’s personal car in Oct. 2018 and found a crumpled up NYS Department of Transportation out-of-service sticker.
During cross-examination, Hock said Hussain was arrested on Oct. 10, 2018, before the cause of the crash was determined as catastrophic brake failure.
Michael Burns, a NYSP investigator, also testified. He was the detective to conduct the initial interview with Hussain after the crash.