LATHAM - The owner of the company that owned the limousine involved in Saturday's crash that killed 20 people has been located, but he is out of the country in Pakistan, state police said today.
State police Major Robert Patnaude confirmed to reporters that the owner the company, Prestige Limousine, of Saratoga County, is Shahed Hussain. He did not indicate how long Hussain has been in Pakistan.
Asked by reporters if Hussain faces criminal charges in connection with the crash, Patnaude said that will be determined through the investigation.
"We'll determine whether there is any criminal culpability on the part of anyone, and, if there is, we'll hold them accountable," Patnaude told reporters.
New York State police have criminal investigation underway. Limo owner, former FBI informant, is out of country. #Schoharie— Stephen Williams (@gazettesteve) October 8, 2018
Patnaude briefed reporters before NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt. Each covered portions of the investigation into the Saturday crash.
State police have #Schoharie crash vehicle and its airbag control -- the "black box " and are examining it— Stephen Williams (@gazettesteve) October 8, 2018
The overall investigation itself is continuing, Patnaude said. The state police forensic investigation unit is examining the vehicles involved. Data and measurements are being examined and analyzed and interviews are ongoing. A mechanical examination will be conducted of the limo to determine if it was mechanically sound.
Investigators are also in possession of the vehicles airbag control module, which Patnaude described as the vehicle's black box. That is being analyzed.
Autopsies also continue, he said. They are about three-quarters of the way through.
The victims were active on their cell phones prior to the crash, both texting and on social media, Patnaude said. The New York Times reported earlier that one victim expressed concern about the state of the vehicle in a text to a friend.
Patnaude asked that anyone who may have been in contact with the victims contact state police at 518-630-1700.
Patnaude did not release any of the names of the victims, pending identifications and full notification of family, he said.
He reiterated information released earlier by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that the driver of the limousine did not have the proper license to drive it. The driver, whom he did not name, did not have the required passenger endorsement on his license. Any vehicle with 15 or more seats is considered a bus and requires that, he said.
The vehicle itself also failed inspections, Patnaude said, reiterating another detail provided by the governor earlier.
Regarding Prestige, investigators have seized the company's three other vehicles, two stretch town cars. Patnaude was unsure of the model of the third vehicle.
Prestige was the group's second choice of company, Patnaude said. They originally had a different company scheduled, but that company canceled and they scrambled to find another company, which was Prestige, Patnaude said.
The press briefings came at the end of a day of revelations in the investigation into what went wrong, resulting in the Saturday crash.
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The New York Times reported one of the victims sent out a text prior to the ride expressing concern about the limo: “The motor is making everyone deaf,” victim Erin McGowan wrote to a friend ahead of the trip.
Also today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also briefed reporters, saying the limousine failed state DOT inspection last month and should not have been on the road. The driver, too, had not been properly licensed to drive such a vehicle, the governor said.
At the scene of the Route 30, Route 30A crash, the NTSB continued its work reconstructing the scene. They used a drone to map the area Monday afternoon.
Then there were the victims, 17 passengers, the driver and two pedestrians. More came out about them, including victim Amanda Rivenburg, an employee at Living Resources.
"She will be remembered fondly through her loving spirit, wonderful smile, thoughtful nature, and her genuine commitment to her colleagues and individuals that we serve," Living Resources CEO Frederick W. Erlich wrote to wrote in a statement to employees released to the Gazette.
- NY Times: Passenger expressed concern about limo shortly before crash that killed 20, Oct. 8, 2018
- Cuomo: Limo in Schoharie crash failed inspection; Driver not properly licensed, Oct. 8, 2018
- Some of those lost in the Schoharie limo tragedy, sisters, brothers, young parents, Oct. 8, 2018
- Drone used to map Schoharie limo crash scene, Oct. 8, 2018