Governor lowers flags in crash victims' memory

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The birthday party guests were riding in a 2001 Ford Excursion that was converted into a limousine.

Aside from the failed inspections, the driver of the vehicle did not have the proper license. The 17 passengers-including four sisters, two brothers and at least three young couples, all on their way to a birthday party at an upstate brewery-were killed along with the driver and two pedestrians.

"We continue to be stunned by the widespread local impact of Saturday's heartbreaking limo accident.", said Kara Ulasewicz, hospice president and CEO.

The 17 people who were in the stretch limousine are: Axel J. Steenburg, 29, of Amsterdam; Richard M. Steenburg, 34, of Johnstown; Amy L. Steenburg, 29, of Amsterdam; Allison King, 31, of Ballston Spa; Mary E. Dyson, 33, of Watertown; Robert J. Dyson, 34, of Watertown; Abigail M. Jackson, 34, of Amsterdam; Adam G. Jackson, 34, of Amsterdam; Matthew W. Coons, 27, of Johnstown; Savannah D. Bursese, 24, of Johnstown; Patrick K. Cushing, 31, of Halfmoon; Amada D. Halse, 26, of Halfmoon; Erin R. McGowan, 34, of Amsterdam; Shane T. McGowan, 30, of Amsterdam; Amanda Rivenberg, 29, of Colonie; Rachael K. Cavosie, 30, of Waterford; and Michael C. Ukaj, 33, of Johnstown.

Prestige Limousine has been criticized for maintaining vehicles rife with violations and for employing a driver lacking a commercial license.

The crash killed all 18 occupants of the modified limo and two pedestrians.

The bodies of victims began to be released to funeral homes on Tuesday. Among the victims were four sisters.

A vigil was planned Monday night in Amsterdam, where some victims lived.

"In the wake of the Schoharie crash, it is hard to fathom the extent of this tragedy".

"Not really... he trusted in what the limo company said, that the cars were alright", Kim said. Limo drivers in NY state must also pass yearly physicals and background checks, and are subject to random drug and alcohol testing. "In memory of those who were taken from us, I am directing that flags be lowered to half-staff".

According to Bloomberg, however, the state of NY does not require limo passengers to wear seat belts.

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In another interview on Good Morning America, Mr Kindlon disputed assertions by Governor Andrew Cuomo, who on Monday said the Department of Transportation had faulted the limo's "suspension system, chassis system, braking system". The Gansevoort, New York-based company has three vehicles and two drivers, records show, although officials said three vehicles had been seized along with the one involved in the crash.

NY officials say Lisinicchia did not have a proper license to operate the vehicle and federal documents show the limo he was driving also failed an inspection in September. The company had no previous accidents in the last two years, records showed.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Prestige is cooperating with the NTSB as investigators seek more information. The full investigation and analysis, however, could take up to two years, a spokesman said. Hersman says the federal responsibility for overseeing companies that operate in multiple states is a bit of a hodgepodge.

He said the aim of the investigation was to determine how to prevent such a devastating crash from ever occurring again, and did not rule out that the probe could shed broader insights on the safety of passenger limousines themselves.

Prestige, which reportedly uses the names Hasy Limousine and Saratoga Luxury Limousines, has been hit with a cease-and-desist order that will halt operations during the ongoing investigation.

"Prestige Limousine extends its deepest condolences to the family members and friends of those who tragically lost their lives on Saturday", the company said in a statement issued by Albany attorney Lee C. Kindlon. There is no evidence the state took any steps to do so. A separate safety probe, led by the National Transportation Safety Board, was underway at the crash site in Schoharie, about 30 miles west of Albany. Investigators said they found no skid marks at the scene.

"With the heightened inspections that the state of NY requires, each and every time there's been any sort of issue, the company has gone out and fixed the vehicles to make sure that those issues were addressed", says Kindlon. In New York, seatbelts are only required for the limo driver and front-seat passenger, he said. The limousine qualified as a bus under state law because it could carry more than 15 passengers.

The statement from Lisinicchia's lawyer said he would never have "knowingly put others in harm's way" and cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

Both issues were fixed and, "as recently as last week they were told by the Department of Transportation that they could, that this vehicle was roadworthy and they could drive it", Kindlon said.

Still, the group continued southwest on State Route 30.

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