Owner of limo in deadly crash an FBI informant in terror stings

Emergency vehicles outside the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie on Oct. 6, 2018 after a two-vehicle collision involving a limousine left 20 people dead. Peter R. Barber/The Daily Gazette via The New York Times

Congresswoman Elise M. Stefanik has partnered with two representatives to introduce a set of bills aimed at enhancing limousine safety, coming after 20 people died in a single crash last year.

Ms. Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, joined by Congressman Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, and Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, announced the legislation package Thursday. The representatives say the bills would ensure modified limousines meet federal safety standards, strengthen inspection requirements and launch research to guide further updates to limousine safety regulations.

The introduction comes in the wake of last year’s limousine crash in Schoharie in which 20 people died, making it the deadliest transportation accident in the United States since 2009. The limo had failed to stop at a stop sign in Schoharie, went through the parking lot of a country store and ended up crashing in a ditch. Three area people, including a Watertown couple and a SUNY Oswego geology professor, were among the victims. The crash is currently under investigation.

“I am looking forward to working with my New York colleagues on this comprehensive and bipartisan legislation to ensure such senseless tragedies never happen again,” Ms. Stefanik said in a statement.

The Safe Limos Act of 2019 would require a number of changes, including each new limo to have lap and shoulder belts, existing limo seat belts to be evaluated and meet safety requirements for seat strength and integrity. It would require manufacturers altering used vehicles to limos to certify that they meet federal safety standards. The act would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct research into crashworthiness and evacuation protocols in the event of an accident.

“One year ago, tragedy struck Upstate New York when 20 lives were lost in a horrific auto accident,” Ms. Stefanik said. “While the investigation is still ongoing, (National Transportation Safety Board’s) recent recommendations make it clear that critical gaps in the federal standards are undermining the safety of passengers. Our proposal will close existing loopholes in the limousine safety standards and keep unsafe vehicles off our roads.”

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