Investigation Also Reveals Inadequate New York State Oversight.
WASHINGTON (Sept. 29, 2020) — A company’s decision to dispatch a stretch limousine with an out-of-service order and poorly maintained brakes led to the Oct. 6, 2018, crash in Schoharie, New York, that killed 20, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday.
The NTSB found that Prestige Limousine and Chauffeur Service’s egregious disregard for safety led to the failure of the brake system on the modified SUV limousine as it descended a steep grade. Although investigators determined the driver likely applied the brakes, the limousine’s speed increased to more than 100 mph before crossing an intersection and crashing into a ravine. All 18 limousine occupants and two pedestrians were killed.
Contributing to the crash was the New York State Department of Transportation’s ineffective oversight of Prestige Limousine, even though it knew of Prestige’s multiple out-of-service violations and lack of operating authority. The board called its repair verification process inadequate. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles failed to properly register the limousine, enabling Prestige to circumvent the state’s safety regulations and more rigorous inspection requirements.
“Knowing this tragedy could have been prevented on numerous occasions, by those who are entrusted to protect us, makes this crash even more heartbreaking,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt, who was the NTSB Go Team board member on the scene of the crash. “If our safety recommendations are implemented, they will go a long way toward preventing another Schoharie.”
(Pre-crash photograph of the limousine involved in the Schoharie crash, which killed 20 people Oct. 6, 2018. The modified vehicle was based on a 2001 Ford Excursion SUV. Photo Credit: James Goolsby, Times Union)
The NTSB issued recommendations Tuesday to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Governor of the State of New York, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and the National Limousine Association.
Last September the NTSB issued a safety recommendation report, based in part on the Schoharie investigation, that called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require lap/shoulder belts for each passenger seating position on all new vehicles modified to be used as limousines.
A synopsis of the investigation’s findings and recommendations is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xGfqt.
The safety recommendation report, “Providing Occupant Protection for Limousine Passengers,” is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xGfcx
The full, revised investigative report will be issued in the next few weeks on ntsb.gov and announced vie Twitter @NTSB_Newsroom.
To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).