SCHOHARIE — The driver of the limousine involved in Saturday’s fatal crash in Schoharie would have known to check the vehicle thoroughly for safety, including the brake systems, had he obtained the proper commercial-passenger license, based on state Department of Motor Vehicles standards.
Scott Lisinicchia, 53, of Lake George, possessed a standard commercial driver’s license, which authorized him to drive trucks and other large vehicles. He did not have a passenger endorsement on his license, which is required for anyone who drives buses or other vehicles that can carry more than 15 passengers. Authorities have said the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limo that crashed was such a vehicle.
Authorities have said the limousine failed a September inspection due to bad brakes and should not have been in use — something a thorough driver’s inspection of the vehicle before Saturday’s tragic trip should have revealed.
Lisinicchia drove part-time for Prestige Limousine of Gansevoort. In August, he was ticketed by state police in Saratoga Springs for operating the same limo without the proper license, and state officials have cited his license status as a possible issue in the crash. State police said the license status was a factor in their decision to arrest Nauman Hussain, of Cohoes, on a criminally negligent homicide charge Wednesday. Hussain was in charge of the limo company at the time of the crash, troopers allege.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles commercial drivers’ license manual, which anyone with a CDL is expected to know, includes an extensive safety section, with an entire section devoted to how to appropriately brake when descending a long hill.
For a passenger endorsement, the manual emphasizes a requirement that the driver thoroughly inspect the vehicle — including testing brakes — before each trip. A DMV-overseen road test is required for the commercial license, and at least a written test is needed for the passenger endorsement. That test is very similar or the same as that given to school bus operators.
Lisinicchia was killed in the crash, along with his 17 passengers and two pedestrians. The vehicle had descended a long hill on state Route 30 just before 2 p.m. on Saturday and went through a stop sign at its intersection with state Route 30A, crossing into the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store, hitting an unoccupied vehicle and two pedestrians, and going over an embankment.
Lisinicchia’s family has issued a statement saying he would not have knowingly driven a defective vehicle that placed people in danger.
Lisinicchia also drove tractor-trailers and dump trucks, which his standard CDL authorized him to do.
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