The manager of a New York State limousine company has pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of second-degree manslaughter and 20 counts of criminally negligent homicide for a crash that killed 17 passengers, two pedestrians and the driver of a stretched 2001 Ford Excursion.
New York State Police found that Prestige Limousine of Sarasota Springs did not hold state operating authority. Nonetheless, it somehow had obtained inspection stickers without submitting the vehicle to required New York Department of Transportation semi-annual inspections.
Police also reported that the limo had twice been ordered out of service last year during roadside inspections. The driver was not properly licensed and was found to have an anti-seizure medication and THC, an active chemical in marijuana, in his body.
Nauman Hussain, 28, was charged in Schoharie County Court on April 9. Prosecutors said he had “sole responsibility for that vehicle being on the road.” He is the son of company owner Shahed Hussain, who is in Pakistan.
The accident occurred on Oct. 6, 2018, at a T-intersection of two state highways in Schoharie where the speed limit is 55 mph. A witness said the limo, hired to carry a birthday party to a brewery, “traveled through the intersection at a high rate of speed” and entered a restaurant parking lot. It struck a sport utility vehicle and two people who were approaching it, according to the preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The judge set Hussain’s bail at $225,000 cash or $450,000 bond and ordered him to wear an ankle monitor. His trial is set for Sept. 16. The accident prompted an enforcement crackdown on passenger carriers across New York State.