Limo company owner arrested after fatal crash

Mourers pay their respects at the scene of the crash in Schoharie. Photo: Reuters
Mourers pay their respects at the scene of the crash in Schoharie. Photo: Reuters
The operator of a limousine company that owned the vehicle involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Nauman Hussain. Photo: NY State Police via Reuters
Nauman Hussain. Photo: NY State Police via Reuters

Nauman Hussain was charged with one felony count related to the deadliest US transportation accident in nearly a decade. All 20 victims were listed on the charging document.

The 28-year-old was issued written violations by New York State Police and the state Department of Transportation that the driver he hired should not have been operating the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine involved in Saturday's crash.

The vehicle, carrying 17 people on their way to a birthday party, ran a stop sign at a highway intersection in Schoharie, about 65km west of Albany, police and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said.

It crashed into an unoccupied parked car and two pedestrians before coming to a halt in a shallow ravine, officials said. The driver, all 17 passengers and the two pedestrians were killed. No children were involved.

The state ordered that vehicle out of service in September and it should not have been on the road, New York State Police Superintendent George Beach said on Wednesday.

"The sole responsibility for the motor vehicle being on the road on Saturday rests with Nauman Hussain," Beach said.

Hussain is scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday evening in Schoharie.

Shahed Hussain, Nauman's father and the owner of Prestige Limousine, was not in the country and more charges were possible, Beach said.

The company's lawyer, Lee Kindlon, told media on Wednesday that he intended to defend Nauman Hussain against any charges.

Kindlon said on Tuesday that safety violations issued last month on the limousine involved in the accident were largely minor and had not caused the crash.

George Longworth, an attorney for the family of the driver, 53-year-old Scott Lisinicchia, said on Tuesday that his family "believes that unbeknownst to him, he was provided with a vehicle that was neither roadworthy nor safe for any of its occupants."

Before the crash, one of the victims, Erin McGowan, texted a friend that the limousine appeared to have engine trouble, the New York Times reported.

State authorities and the NTSB are investigating the crash. 

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