It was supposed to be a birthday celebration at an upstate New York brewery when 17 young friends hired a bus for a trip to a brewery. At the last minute, a 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine was substituted when the bus was not available.
When the limousine barreled through a stop sign in Schoharie, hit a parked car at 60 miles per hour and slammed into a ravine, all 17 passengers and the 53-year old driver were killed as well as two pedestrians.
Tragically, the victims included four sisters and two brothers. There were two newlywed couples and parents of young children among the fatalities.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that this was the deadliest U.S. accident in 9 years.
Multiple Problems with Limousine and Limousine Company
As the investigation unfolds, disturbing details are emerging about the vehicle and the limousine company.
The 2001 limousine had repeatedly failed inspections, including a recent one in September. At that time, the state Department of Transportation reported that the vehicle should not be on the road.
Limousines such as the one involved in this accident are modified from former sport utility vehicles or cars after manufacturing. They often do not have to meet strict federal safety requirements. For example, the driver must wear a seatbelt but passengers do not.
The September inspection found that the vehicle had:
· 18 seats but was certified to carry only 10 passengers including the driver
· A dangling brake line that may have been able to make contact with a tire
· A hydraulic braking system warning light on
At that time, the company owner was also faulted for not fixing problems from an earlier inspection.
The NTSB investigation is moving swiftly. The limousine company’s operator has been arrested and charged with criminally negligent homicide. The company has a history of repeated safety violations and its operator had received written violations earlier this year after vehicle inspections by the state Department of Transportation and the State Police.
Wrongful Death Claim: A Legal Option Following a Devastating Loss
While nothing can replace a lost child, spouse, parent, sister or brother, if an individual loses his life due to another’s negligence, a wrongful death claim can help to ease the family’s financial burden.
Burial and funeral expenses can be significant as well as:
· Loss of income where a family member provided for others
· Loss of companionship
· Punitive damages in cases of extreme carelessness and intentional actions
Let Us Know If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident
If you or a family member has been harmed by a car accident, truck accident, construction accident, slip and fall or any other type of personal injury, please contact StolzenbergCortelli, LLC Attorneys at Law immediately. Please call us for a free consultation. Attorneys Howard Stolzenberg and Terrence James Cortelli, personal injury attorneys in White Plains, Nyack and New York City, will fight to secure justice for you and your family. You can reach us at 800-494-0889 or contact us via the website.