Editorial: Enough bickering on limo crash

Valuable time wasted over petty limousine dispute
The top of a stretch limousine that crashed in Schoharie can be seen.
The top of a stretch limousine that crashed in Schoharie can be seen.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

We don’t want bickering over turf between the DA, the staties and the feds.

We don’t want leaks to the press, or long letters of explanation as to why the other side is wrong, or demands for public apologies, or judges being drawn into the middle of things.

It’s been 105 days since the stretch-limousine crash that killed 20 people in Schoharie on Oct. 6. Yet all we’ve seen from the investigation so far is all of the above.

When it comes to this crash, the public and the families of the victims want just two things: Answers and justice.

Yet the vehicle at the center of the crash still sits inside a tent as District Attorney Susan Mallery and representatives of the National Traffic Safety Board continue to bicker over who can have what degree of access to the limo to determine what role its construction and maintenance played in the crash.

How about everybody involved stops this nonsense and starts working together toward a common goal.

The DA and state police are preparing a criminal case. The NTSB is preparing a case for safety improvements to prevent future crashes. Their goals are equally important, as is the need for both to conduct full investigations.

This isn’t some unique situation with no clear precedent on how to proceed. Multiple jurisdictions with complementary public purposes cooperate on these exact types of investigations all the time. They figure it out. Why can’t they do it here, when their cooperation matters so much to so many people?

Much of the blame appears to fall on Mallery, who has not only been uncooperative with NTSB officials from the start, but continues to fight against giving the agency full access to the vehicle.
Instead, she waited until recently to respond to the NTSB’s repeated public accusations that her office was denying the agency access to the vehicle, and then she seemed at least as concerned about the “press onslaught” as she is about the actual investigation.

If her concern is that NTSB investigators are going to destroy evidence, then agree to have state police investigators be present and supervise the removal and inspection of that evidence. If she’s concerned about the NTSB’s desire to observe the removal of parts by state police, let NTSB investigators observe.

Then agree that all information obtained by each side should be immediately and fully shared with the other.

That’s how this investigation should have been conducted from Day 1. Yet 105 days after the crash, they’re still bickering over access.

Enough of this nonsense. Set up a meeting. Agree on the logistics. Give everyone the access they need.

Get us answers. Get us justice.

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