FILE – In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, a limousine, left, landed in the forest after a fatal crash in Schoharie, new york, In a letter made public Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board said it is still not been given full access to the modified stretch limo that crashed prejudice to the agency of the efforts to determine the cause. (Tom Heffernan Sr. via AP, File)
ALBANY, N. Y. – The National Transportation Safety Board told a New York prosecutor, it has hampered the agency’s efforts to determine the cause of the limousine crash that killed 20 people in its national state county, the nation’s deadliest transport wreck in almost a decade.
In a letter made public Thursday, an NTSB lawyer told Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery that “the safety important instructions” are lost because her office had refused to allow researchers to fully inspect the modified stretch limo that crashed in Schoharie on Oct. 6.
“While we understand the main tasks that are running, we are seriously concerned that your lack of response to our requests has seriously hampered our opportunities to get our Congress-mandated tasks properly to complete of this safety investigation and possibly preventing similar accidents in the future,” NTSB general counsel Kathleen Silbaugh wrote.
The letter is explicitly referred to the concern about the loss of the ability to evaluate corrosion on limo parts, including the brakes, or the status of the electrical installation at the time of the crash.
The letter goes on to demand immediate access to the stranded limo and other vehicles that are owned by the company, Prestige Limousine.
Mallery’s office didn’t respond Thursday to a request by The Associated Press for comment, but she told WRGB-TV in Albany with the limo is evidence in a criminally negligent homicide case against the owners.
She told the station Wednesday night, that it was “not true at all” that they impede the NTSB access to the limo.
It is not the first time reports of the NTSB dissatisfaction with the local treatment of the research have occurred. Two weeks after the crash, the AP reported the agency of the researchers were privately expressing frustration about their access to the wreckage. NTSB officials said at that time that agency investigators had looked into the limousine shortly, but I had not carried out a full investigation.
The New York State Police in charge of the ongoing criminal investigation into the cause of the limo to blow through a stop sign at a T-shaped intersection, barrel through a store parking lot and crashed into a shallow ditch. The driver, 17 passengers on a birthday getaway, and two men standing in the parking lot were killed.
The plaintiffs claim that the limousine company of the operator, Nauman Hussain, allowed a good driver with driving licence for driving a “useless” vehicle . He pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence homicide.
The Ford Excursion limo will remain in a tent on the grounds of a national police troops headquarters in a suburb of Albany. A state police spokesman referred questions about the NTSB letter to Mallery’s office.
State police officials previously had said, which the NTSB investigators access to the vehicle before it was fully investigated and processed by the state police and Hussain, the defense of the team would jeopardize the criminal case. The NTSB letter says the defense team examined the vehicle in the last month, but the agency had received no response from Mallery to the request to investigate the limo.
The letter will also state that the prosecutor did not respond to the NTSB’s efforts to obtain the information via letter, phone and e-mail.
“Instead,” Silbaugh wrote, “what we have been told that the schedule is full and you are too busy to respond.”