What to Know
- Relatives of some of the 20 people killed in a limousine crash are calling for stricter safety regulations as the anniversary approaches
- The families are seeking passage of proposed legislation that would require new limos to come with lap-and-shoulder belts for every seat
- The calls come a day after the NTSB recommended the seating systems in these vehicles meet minimum performance standards to ensure integrity
Relatives of some of the 20 people killed in a limousine crash are calling for stricter safety regulations as the anniversary approaches.
They joined Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and congressional representatives Thursday in Amsterdam, New York.
That's near where the stretch limo sped through an intersection and slammed into an embankment on Oct. 6, 2018.
The driver, 17 passengers on a birthday outing and two pedestrians were killed.
The families are seeking passage of proposed legislation that would require new limousines to come with lap-and-shoulder belts for every seat.
The legislation also would set safety standards for limo seats.
"The Safe Limos Act is just pure common sense," Sen. Schumer said. "It's about ensuring no mother or father have to go through what these folks have endured."
Kevin Cushing's son, Patrick, was killed in the crash. He urged lawmakers to take prompt action.
"Unfortunately many celebration opportunities, such has family holidays, weddings, and birthdays, have been lost to us forever," Cushing said.
The legislation echoes recommendations made Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The board released safety recommendations almost a year after the Ford Excursion SUV that had been modified into a huge stretch limo crashed in rural Schoharie and went into the woods.
The safety board recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that lap and shoulder seat belts be required on all new vehicles modified to be used as limousines. The agency also recommended that seating systems in these vehicles meet minimum performance standards to ensure their integrity during a crash.
The carnage in the Schoharie crash, the board wrote, "might have been mitigated by a combination of adequate seat integrity, well-designed passenger lap/shoulder belts, and proper seat belt use."
None of the 17 passengers appeared to have worn available seat belts at the time of the crash, the board said, and the belts were poorly designed and "would not have provided adequate protection."
Prosecutors in New York allege the limo company's operator, Nauman Hussain, allowed an improperly licensed driver to operate an "unserviceable" vehicle. Just weeks before the crash, the limo had failed a state inspection that examined such things as the chassis, suspension and brakes.
Hussain has pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide, and his lawyer has said investigators rushed to judgment. His trial is scheduled for January.
The national safety board had publicly complained previously that law enforcement officials had delayed the agency from doing a full inspection of the wrecked limo, putting off potentially crucial safety recommendations. The Schoharie County District Attorney argued that criminal trials take precedence. The two sides reached a deal in court in January that cleared the way for NTSB investigators to access the vehicle.
Parents of people killed in that crash and another limo wreck on Long Island in 2015 that killed four young women on a winery tour have asked state lawmakers to tighten multiple limousine regulations.
Specifically, the group wants a new state law requiring seat belts and air bags for all limo passengers, along with stronger inspection rules and better enforcement to ensure vehicles and drivers have proper licenses and permits.