A cellphone video showing a limousine driver texting while transporting 45 people to the Hamptons, just one day after a separate limo crash killed four women on Long Island, has led to the firing of the driver.
The driver spends a total of 22 seconds with one hand on the wheel and the other on the phone, the video shows. The rider who took the video, a woman named Amanda, said she was shocked.
"I couldn't even believe what we caught this driver doing," she said.
Amanda said she posted the video to Facebook because "I want people to be aware that even if you're being responsible and getting a limo driver, to be aware of who's driving you."
Thousands have watched and weighed in on the driver's actions. People were appalled by what they saw but perhaps no one was more shocked than Mark Vigliante, the president of M&V Limousine, the owner of the limo bus. Vigliante fired the driver after watching the video.
"It's in front of us in black and white; it looks like he is texting, so at that point we needed to fire him," said Vigliante.
"It's unfortunate someone has to lose their job as well, but it's how it goes in this type of industry," he said. "It's a very sensitive thing, and if someone's doing something that's not right or illegal you have to fire the driver. That's the only way to handle it."
The driver worked for Vigliante roughly six months and never had prior complaints, but Vigilante said what he saw was inexcusable.
"If I was one of the passengers in the vehicle, I wouldn't like it either," he said. "I'm thankful to the person that posted it. Because if they didn't do that I might not have known about it.."
"We are doing everything possible that we are able to do to keep our passengers safe every day," he added.
Amanda said she hopes the nerve-wracking ride has served a lesson that everyone can benefit from.
"That's the reason why I did this and I'm just very happy that I'm OK and all the other people on the bus are OK, and I just hope this really puts an end to this," Amanda added.
While Vigliante says his drivers have regular safety meetings and GPS in the vehicles to track speed over 70 miles per hour, he is also working on installing cameras in all of his vehicles to keep an eye drivers as well.
Just one day before the video of the texting driver was taken, a pickup truck driver crashed into a limo carrying eight young women who were touring Long Island's wine country in Southold. Four of the women were killed. The truck driver, who was initially arrested on a DWI charge, was later found to have a blood alcohol level below the legal limit, though prosecutors say the blood was drawn nearly two hours after the crash and believe that he was above the limit at the time of the accident.
The limo was making a U-turn at an intersection where other limo drivers have gotten summonses for the way they make turns, "swinging way out" and "virtually blocking the two westbound lanes," according to District Attorney Thomas Spota.