The limousine involved in Saturday afternoon's horrific crash shouldn't have been on the road. It failed an inspection last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday. In addition, the driver, who died in the upstate New York crash along with his 17 passengers and two bystanders, was not properly licensed to operate it, Cuomo said. The governor, speaking at a Columbus Day Parade, said the state is going to court to get a cease-and-desist order barring Prestige Limo, the Wilton business that operated the limousine, from operating any others, at least until the National Transportation Safety Board and the State Police finish their investigations into the crash. It also emerged Monday that the owner of Prestige Limo is a former FBI informant who has testified in two high-profile terrorism cases, the Albany Times-Union reports. The New York Times notes the owner's son might manage the day-to-day operations of the business, and has more info on the terrorism cases. More of the latest:
- The cause: "We don't yet know the cause of the accident, if it was a vehicle malfunction, if it was a driver malfunction or driver error," Cuomo said. Chris Fiore of the New York State Police tells CNN it's also not clear whether the limo was speeding, whether the vehicle's brakes were functioning correctly, or whether any of the passengers were wearing seatbelts; rear passengers are not required to in the type of limo involved in the crash.
- What we do know: The limo, reportedly a modified 2001 Ford Excursion SUV, was said to be out of control as it came down a hill on state route 30 toward a T-intersection with state route 30A and blew through the stop sign at the intersection (CNN has an image of the area from above). From there, it crossed the busy highway, hit an unoccupied SUV in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie, fatally struck two pedestrians in the parking lot, slammed into an earthen embankment, and ended up landing in a shallow ravine.
- Dangerous intersection: There have been "more accidents than I can count" at that intersection, including three tractor-trailers that ran the same stop sign and ended up in the field behind her business, the managing director of the country store tells Time. Locals say the intersection has been known for years to be a dangerous one, and WNYT reports that large trucks were recently banned from coming down the hill in question in an effort to prevent accidents.
- Four sisters: "I had four nieces. They are all dead. They were in there," Barbara Douglas tells ABC News of the four sisters who were killed in the crash along with the husbands of three of them. "My brother and his wife are just overwrought," she adds to NBC News. "I don't know how to say it. Can't wrap your head around such a tragedy where you have four of your daughters die." The women's younger brother tells CBS News, "It hasn't really sunk in yet. It seems like a really bad dream."
- Other victims: The close-knit group, which was out celebrating one of the sisters' birthdays, also included brothers and cousins, newlywed couples and wedding party members, childhood friends and parents of young children. Syracuse.com, the New York Times, the New York Post, and Heavy have the names of all the victims released so far, and the Daily Dot has links to some of the GoFundMe campaigns set up for victims' families. The Apple Barrel is also raising money for local volunteer emergency services, it said in a Facebook post after the crash.
- Last text: The New York Times has seen the text one of the passengers sent her friend shortly before the crash, in which she used profanity to describe how shoddy the limo was. The group had been expecting a party bus, but it broke down and the limo was sent in its place. "The motor is making everyone deaf," she wrote. "When we get to brewery we will all b deaf."
- Limo safety: A Washington Post column looks at the massive safety issues rampant in the limousine industry.
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