The operator of a limousine company that owned the vehicle involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York was taken into custody and charged with criminally negligent homicide, according to New York State Police.
- The vehicle was carrying 17 people to a birthday party on the weekend when it crashed
- An inspection showed some anti-lock braking malfunction indicators
- It is unclear it that was a factor in the crash
Nauman Hussain, the operator of Prestige Limousine, was taken into custody following a traffic stop near Albany, police said in a statement.
He was charged in connection with the deadly crash.
The company’s lawyer, Lee Kindlon, told a news conference on Wednesday, local time, that Mr Hussain’s girlfriend and brother were at the police barracks earlier for some “initial questioning”.
It was not immediately clear if other family members were questioned.
Shahyer Hussain, the brother of Nauman Hussain, leaves a police station in New York. (AP: Hans Pennink)
The vehicle, carrying 17 people on their way to a birthday party on the weekend, ran a stop sign at a highway intersection in Schoharie, about 65km west of Albany, police and the National Transportation Safety Board said.
Officers said it crashed into an unoccupied parked car and two pedestrians before coming to a rest in a shallow ravine, killing the driver, all 17 passengers and the two pedestrians.
Friends of those who died in the crash comfort each other after placing flowers at the intersection in Schoharie. (AP: Hans Pennink)
New York State police said the driver did not have the proper license to operate the 2001 Ford Excursion limousine, and that the vehicle had failed inspection last month.
All three vehicles owned by Prestige Limousine, which is based in Gansevoort, New York, had violations when they were inspected last month, United States Department of Transportation records show.
The inspection of the limousine that crashed had turned up several violations, including some involving anti-lock brake malfunction indicators and inoperative or defective windshield wipers.
It was not known if those issues were factors in the crash.