Deadly Limousine Crash in Schoharie

Host 2: 1800law1010,, Paul Harding, from Martin Harding & Mazzotti, on the phone.

Host 1: Hey, Paul, how are you?

Paul: Hey, good morning guys.

Host 1: The topic this morning is…

Host 2: Where do we start?

Host 1:…what you’d think it would be. And it’s just, we are all experts now on the rules and regulations of becoming a limo driver, and then getting a limo on the road, so we thought we’d get the real answers with you, Paul. What did you learn yesterday?

Paul: Well, you know, of course, the mood in the Capital region, you just, wherever you went that was what was being talked about, and the somber component to it. It’s just something beyond belief, right? So everybody is trying to figure out why and how this could’ve happened. You know, we’ve got this limousine service where we’ve got this vehicle that should not have been on the road, it didn’t pass inspection, and in addition, the driver didn’t have the proper license, he didn’t have what they call a CDL with passenger endorsement.

Host 1: Right.

Paul: So here we’ve got lots of things going on the limo, and then of course there’s all this discussion about, is that a dangerous intersection on route 30 where that accident occurred?

Host 2: Can you speculate, you know, with your experience of having seen a lot of horrific stuff in your day I imagine, can you speculate on how does a crash like that, you know, literally wipe out 17 people immediately like that?

Host 1: Yeah. We just can’t figure out how that number got so high.

Paul: Yeah. So, you know, we’ve got this modified vehicle, right? It’s not a classic limousine, it’s a luxury car that has been modified to allow lots of people in there, so, amazingly there’s no airbags, no requirement toward a seat belt, there’s no roll bar. And so everybody’s very loose in there, and seat belts really do stop a lot of the injuries in accidents, in terms of just hitting things in the vehicle, or other people in there, and of course there’s all kinds of stuff that would be occurring with impact. But the issue here is, when they hit that culvert, it was an immediate stop, so they went from, whether it’s 50 or 60 miles an hour, to zero. So they analogized it to sort of a plane crash, when it hits the earth, there’s just no give, it’s just one of those things where the impact is so tremendous. So yeah, if it had hit something else and careened off it, or had just a little less impact, it would have been a different outcome. But here, just, it hit and everything just ended.

Host 1: And legally I think only the people in the front seat are obligated to wear seat belts. I find it really interesting, because they do the whole feature on, one of the news channels, with Premier and how those limos are certified, and they’re not the chopped limos. You can literally cut a car, make it longer, but it still has the braking system of the car it was intended, and now you’re adding, you know, 15 more people to it.

Host 2: And then some feet of brake cable which, you know, that’s just more brake cable to go wrong.

Host 1: When a tragedy like this happens, we all want to do something. So now it’s like, here comes regulation. This is probably legitimate regulation that we look into these chopped limos, right, Paul?

Paul: Sure it is. And other states have done so, New York has been a little slow to the draw, but our Governor, his comments yesterday and just all the media attention on this nationally I see there will be changes in, not only the weight of the vehicles they allow on the road, but in terms of the inspections and the drivers, I think they’re just going to find a way to ramp that up significantly more.

Host 1: We’re learning all kinds of things about the limo company owner, he was an informant for the FBI, he’s been in some trouble for illegal licenses he was providing immigrants, and stuff like that.

Host 2: The backstory on this, it makes you think that there’s a back story like that in everything, but obviously not. What a weird situation. And, Paul, we appreciate you being a part of the show today.

Paul: Sure, absolutely guys.

Host 1: Paul Harding, 1800law1010, for Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks, Paul.

Paul: Thank you.