The day after a mourning community said last goodbyes to eight of 20 victims of a limousine crash — four sisters and four other relatives — the Senate’s top Democrat called on federal regulators to formulate new safety standards for the vehicles.
Sen. Chuck Schumer on Sunday pointed to glaring gaps in safety data and singled out the National Transportation Safety Board, which he said hasn’t thoroughly investigated a limousine crash in the past three years.
His criticism comes a week after the stretch limo loaded with 18 people on their way to a birthday party for one of the occupants ran a stop sign and crashed at the bottom of a hill in the town of Schoharie. Everyone in the limo died, including the four sisters, along with two pedestrians.
“The sad fact here is that right now everyone is talking about limo safety when we could have been studying it for the past few years,” Schumer said. “The NTSB knows they need to fix this situation so we can have as much information as possible available.”
At a news conference, he called on the NTSB to investigate every stretch limo crash that has occurred in the U.S. and use the data to make recommendations for safety standards that would then have to be implemented by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
The NTSB — charged by Congress to conduct independent probes and make safety recommendations — agreed to investigate limo crashes on a case-by-case basis after a 2015 wreck that killed four women on New York’s Long Island.
But since then, Schumer said, multiple crashes should have been investigated and would have netted “critical safety data” about the structure and safety components of limousines. Federal crash data compiled by The Associated Press shows there were seven limo crashes in 2015 and two in 2016.
Schoharie limo crash’s first responders deal with ‘images you can’t forget’
Five days after converging on the nation’s worst transportation disaster in nine years, the Central Bridge fire and ambulance squad in Scholarie County got a call it was dreading all week: another car wreck.
“It was one of our fears: how it would turn out, how we would react, if it was going to trigger anything,” Central Bridge Fire Department Chief Brian Baker said.
Thankfully, the Thursday crash and another that followed were both minor. No one was injured, and the crew “got back on the horse,” he said.
“They’re holding their own at the moment, feeling better day by day, but it will be a long time until things are normal,” Baker said.
The emergency workers who rushed to the scene of the fatal limousine crash Oct. 6 are still grappling with what they saw that Saturday afternoon. The firefighters, police officers and EMTs described sleepless nights, persistent memories and, as Baker put it, “basic sorrow.”
Twenty people — including the driver, all 17 passengers and two bystanders — were killed when a stretch limousine sped through an intersection and crashed head-on into an embankment along Route 30A.
Every firefighter and nearly all of the medical personnel who were sent to the scene are volunteers.