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Defense experts to view Schoharie crash limo soon

Defense experts to view Schoharie crash limo soon

A scheduled court appearance for Tuesday has been waved, defense says
Defense experts to view Schoharie crash limo soon
Attorney Lee Kindlon leaves court with his hand on the shoulder of client Nauman Hussain Wednesday.
Photographer: Kassie Parisi

SCHOHARIE -- Defense attorneys for the man charged in connection with the Oct. 6 limousine crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people will be able to examine the vehicle soon. 

Nauman Hussain, 28, of Cohoes, faces one count of criminally negligent homicide related to the Oct. 6 crash.

State police have identified him as the operator of Prestige Limo of Saratoga County, which owned the limo. Investigators believe Hussain was solely responsible for the limo being on the road.

Lee Kindlon, an attorney for Hussain, said on Monday that he expects to look at the vehicle closely with his own experts and with the state police present.

"I'd imagine that everybody's checklist is just about the same in terms of what they're looking for," Kindlon said. "Was it mechanical? Was it driver error? Was it some combination of both?"

One point of focus in the case is expected to be the condition of the limo's brakes.

State police have said the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine should have been taken out of service based on brake issues identified in a September inspection.

Hussain was arrested on Oct. 10. He was released after posting bail that evening in Cobleskill Town Court and was to return to court on Tuesday, but the defense waved the appearance, Kindlon said on Monday.

It was unclear exactly how far the state police have gotten in examining the vehicle. Kindlon suggested state police experts would be looking at it at the same time as the defense.

State police spokesman Beau Duffy indicated state police investigators are in the process of examining it themselves.

He confirmed the Hussain defense and defense experts would get to look at it soon.

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Kindlon noted it is in the interest of both prosecutors and defense attorneys to maintain the integrity of the vehicle. He also praised Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery for her handling of the two sides so far.

Mallery's office will be handling the prosecution of the case and any grand jury presentation. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is also waiting for the troopers and defense attorneys to finish with the vehicle, as the NTSB will file its own report and make any safety recommendations that result from their findings.

The NTSB investigators have viewed the limo from the outside but have yet to look at the mechanics, Duffy said.

The crash happened at the intersection of routes 30 and 30A in the town of Schoharie, when the stretch limousine carrying the driver and 17 passengers to a birthday celebration went through a stop sign, struck and killed killing two pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store and crashed down a small ravine.

Everyone in the limousine was killed, including four sisters from the same Amsterdam family, along with three of their spouses. Their friends and other relatives were among those killed.

The loss of life prompted outpourings of grief and support from around the region and the country.

The crash was the nation's worst transportation-related disaster in nearly a decade.

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