SCHOHARIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – As hundreds of friends and family members mourn the loss of 20 people killed in a limo crash on Saturday in the town of Schoharie — the owners of the vehicle in question say they are also shocked and saddened.
Prestige Limo's lawyer Lee Kindlon says any talk of possible criminal charges in connection to the crash is premature.
"I get that people want to point fingers and lay blame," Kindlon said. "But there's still a lot of things to do and a lot of questions left to be answered."
A source briefed on the investigation tells NewsChannel 9 the Schoharie County district attorney has already been brought in with anticipation of criminal charges.
The driver of a limo involved in a deadly crash did not have the appropriate driver's license to operate that vehicle, according to the Governor's Office.
The driver has been identified as Scott Lisinicchia.
The wreckage off the highway in Schoharie is now one of many pieces to the puzzle investigators will use to find out what caused this 2001 Ford Excursion limo to crash.
"All the information we can get is critical. The black box information. The crime scene investigation, interviews, text messages, photos," said Maj. Robert Patnaude, of the New York State Police. "Anything we can find we'll put together the full picture to find out if there's some criminal culpability on the part of anyone."
Kindlon says the owner and management are fully cooperating with all agencies investigating.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo publicly announcing a cease and desist order for Prestige just as the company says they already planned to do so.
"We're going to make it very easy on the governor," Kindlon said. "We're taking the vehicles off the road during the investigation and we will be ceasing all operations until further notice."
Kindlon says the owner of Prestige is currently overseas, but his sons are in the area running the business. He says the family wants to make sure that they're full forthright and honest with all the different agencies that have come forward to figure out what happened.
"They want to make sure the public knows that they they are being full cooperative and they are in search of answers just like everybody else," Kindlon said.
Governor Cuomo's office reported the limo had not passed state inspections, but Kindlon says otherwise.
"We want to make sure not to step on the toes of the investigation as it goes forward," Kindlon said. "But as I understand the information right now it had passed all the safety inspections necessary to be on the road."
While the National Transportation Safety Board is focusing on this investigation, the agency is not losing sight at what may be a larger issue for similar vehicles and the potential for new seat belt requirements in the future.
"We don't yet know the cause of the accident — if it was a vehicle malfunction, if it was a driver malfunction, a driver error," Cuomo said. "That's part of the ongoing investigation between the NTSB and the State Police."