The limousine involved in a deadly crash in the US had been cited for numerous violations including having "brakes out of service", it has emerged.
Twenty people, including four sisters, two brothers and two sets of newlyweds, were killed when the vehicle crashed in Schoharie in upstate New York on Saturday.
The stretch 2001 Ford Excursion, carrying 17 passengers, failed an inspection last month and should not have been on the road, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Federal safety records obtained by NBC News show the limo, operated by Prestige Limousine of Gansevort, New York, was cited for "brakes out of service" on March 21.
An inspection indicated that 20 percent or more of the roughly 5-ton vehicle’s stopping power was compromised.
Records also indicate that brake lines were constricted or obstructed. This could apply to lines running to the rear brakes, which have to be extended when a constructor cuts a vehicle and then adds length to convert it into a limousine, NBC reports.
The limousine owner said the safety violations that led the vehicle to fail inspection last month did not cause the crash.
"I don’t think that these infractions were what led to the tragedy,” Lee Kindlon, attorney for Prestige Limousine, told CBS News.
All three vehicles owned by the company had violations when they were inspected last month, U.S. Department of Transportation records show.
The inspection of the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine that crashed had turned up several violations, including some involving anti-lock brake malfunction indicators and inoperative or defective windshield wipers.
“Those safety issues had been addressed and corrected,” said Kindlon. “Not all infractions are major. A lot of these things were minor and were fixed.”
20 people were killed, including 17 passengers in the limo and the driver along with two pedestrians, when the vehicle failed to stop at a junction on Saturday afternoon.
Gov. Cuomo told reporters on Monday the state is seeking a cease and desist order to stop Prestige Limousine from operating until the investigation into the horror crash is complete.
The vehicle was being driven by Scott Lisinicchia, 53. Lisinicchia was reportedly a last-minute replacement for a hire bus that had broken down moments before picking up its passengers.
Lisinicchia’s identity was confirmed at the scene by his twin brother Keith, and subsequently reported on social media.
It is still not clear whether the limousine crash was the fault of the driver or a malfunction of the vehicle, Cuomo said, but that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and state police were investigating.
“All the car parts, door panels covered in blood still on the ground and everything. It was bad,” local resident Bill Waterson told NPR .
“I’m 68-years-old, I’ve never seen so much destruction.”
Eyewitnesses said it appeared the limo was travelling at or above 60mph. The speed limit is 50mph.
A group of 17 people – including four sisters – died following the tragic accident.
Two pedestrians were also killed in the horrific crash.
It is the worst road accident in the United States since 2009.
Schoharie Town Supervisor Alan Tavenner said the intersection is at the bottom of a steep hill.
He told the Washington Post: “If somebody’s new to the area or not familiar with the area, I can see how it’d be easy to miss that you’re coming down to the T-intersection and going to have to stop at the bottom of it."
Jessica Kirby, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe, told the New York Times: “That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour. All fatal.
“I don’t want to describe the scene. It’s not something I want to think about.”
Those killed in the crash have been identified as:
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