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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976



Every year we hear the tragic story of a horrific crash involving limousines and party buses, but what happened this past weekend in upstate New York was unfathomable. It should come as no surprise, however, that local and federal investigators immediately zeroed in on whether the limousine had passed safety inspections and red flags of driver negligence. Fatal crashes like this demand immediate answers.

Law enforcement officials said on Sunday that the crash in Schoharie, N.Y., a small town about 40 miles west of Albany, was the worst transportation-related accident in nine years, since a 2009 plane crash outside Buffalo.

On Monday, investigators continue to search for clues as to what caused the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine to speed down a rural highway, through a stop sign and into an unoccupied car, killing 17 friends in the vehicle who were on their way to celebrate a birthday party. Two pedestrians were also killed in the crash.

The intersection where the accident occurred was known among residents as being notoriously dangerous: a tricky T-shape, where east-west traffic often sped by in excess of the posted 50 m.p.h. speed limit.

The investigation will also include autopsies of the victims, a tight-knit group that included four sisters, two brothers and several young couples. Those victims had yet to be identified by the authorities but heartbroken friends and relatives were already posting testimonials.

The company that provided the limousine that crashed in upstate New York on Saturday, killing 20 people, had repeatedly failed motor vehicle inspections and the driver did not have a proper license, according to state officials and federal transportation records. One victim expressed concerns about the limousine’s safety in a text sent shortly before the crash, relatives and friends said.

One friend said she got a text from one of the victims, Erin McGowan, telling her that a party bus that was supposed to pick up the group of friends to take them to a brewery had broken down on the way there.

Instead, the group obtained a stretch limousine, which was in shoddy condition, Ms. McGowan told her friend, using a profanity to describe the vehicle.

The friend, Melissa Healey, 33, who had been the maid of honor at Ms. McGowan’s wedding this past summer, shared the texts with The New York Times.

“The motor is making everyone deaf,” wrote Ms. McGowan, before Ms. Healey asked from where they rented the car.

Ms. McGowan responded that she wasn’t sure, but then added, “When we get to brewery we will all b deaf.”

They never made it.

The company that rented the vehicle was Prestige Limousine, a small company doing business out of Gansevoort, N.Y., a town north of Albany, according to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who briefed reporters on the investigation on Monday. A review of federal transportation records show that the company, which currently had three vehicles, had failed inspections, though the records did not provide details about the failures.

If you or a loved one has been injured while riding in a limousine or party bus contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. for a free consultation. Tampa injury lawyers Nicholas G. Matassini and Nicholas M. Matassini are both AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Since 1976, our law firm has been protecting the rights of the injured and their families throughout Florida in State and Federal courts.

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