Employees at a mechanics allegedly falsified records stating brake repairs were carried out on a limousine before the vehicle crashed, killing 20 people in upstate New York.
Despite documents claiming the work was carried out, Mavis Discount Tire shop never performed the repairs to the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limo’s brakes, new court filings have claimed.
Virgil Park, a former manager of the auto shop in Saratoga Springs, told prosecutors last month he bought a brake part for the stretch SUV in May 2018.
But although an invoice stated the brake master cylinder was installed, a mechanic later told Park it was never installed and the part was returned to the store eight days later, according to court documents.
Nauman Hussain (center), the operator of a limousine company that owned the vehicle involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York arrives for his arraignment at Cobleskill Town Court last October
The 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limo careered across an intersection before striking a parked Toyota Highlander SUV in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store
The brake master cylinder converts force from the driver’s foot into hydraulic pressure on the brakes. Park claimed the records were falsified in order to hit sales quotas.
Nauman Hussain, operator of a limousine company has been indicted on 40 charges, including 20 of second-degree manslaughter and the same number of counts of criminally negligent homicide.
Presige Limousine, which is run by Hussain, 29, and owned by his father, rented out the modified stretch limo that had failed two previous inspections and was ordered out of service by the state Department of Transportation, prosecutors said.
An expert hired by investigators had previously determined the cause of the wreck to be ‘catastrophic brake failure’, according to court records, but the National Transportation Safety Board has not yet determined an official cause.
In the aftermath of the horror crash the driver, 17 passengers and two bystanders were left dead after the vehicle careered through an intersection before striking a parked Toyota Highlander SUV in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store, about 30 miles west of Albany.
Mavis Discount Tire mechanics in Saratoga Springs. Former manager Virgil Park claimed employees falsified records to show work on the limousine’s brakes were carried out
The driver, 17 passengers and two bystanders, including four sisters and three US army veterans, were left dead after the horror smash around 30 miles west of Albany
Nauman Hussain, 29, was indicted on 40 charges including 20 of second-degree manslaughter and 20 of criminally negligent homicide following the crash
The group had been to a Cooperstown brewery to celebrate a birthday when the accident struck on October 6 last year.
Four sisters, three US army veterans, and an accomplished professor and his father-in-law who were walking to the store all died when the limo tore through a stop sign at a busy intersection and careened out of control.
The crash was the deadliest transportation disaster in the United States in nearly a decade.
Presige Limousine maintained it is not responsible for the wreck and Hussain’s attorneys say the recent revelations undermine prosecutors’ argument that their client knew the limousine was unsafe before the accident.
The company said in a statement: ‘Our thoughts and condolences remain with the victims of this tragic accident. Mavis did not cause the accident, however, and bears no legal responsibility for it.’
Hussain’s attorneys wrote in a letter that Mavis’s ‘fraudulent conduct – not anything undertaken by defendant was the true legal cause of the accident’.
Mavis also issued a statement calling many of the statements attributed to Park ‘inaccurate or misleading’ and claimed defense lawyers were ‘attempting to falsely attack Mavis in a desperate diversion tactic to shift responsibility’.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said it would pursue the allegations ‘to the fullest extent of our authority’, according to the Times Union of Albany.
The limousine involved in the October 2018 crash had failed a safety inspection a month prior and its driver did not have a license to carry commercial passengers
According to a letter filed in court last week by Schoharie County District Attorney Susan Mallery, whose office conducted an interview with Park, the shop also falsified doing other brake labor on the limousine, including flushing the vehicle’s brake lines and replacing it with clean fluid.
Park told investigators that the ‘brakes were just bled’, according to the court documents.
Mallery wrote in the letter: ‘Although the invoice from May 11, 2018, indicates that this part was installed, Mr. Parks [sic] informed us that an employee, Chikezie Okoro, told him that the part was not installed.’
Currently at least three victims’ families have filed suit against Mavis, blaming the auto shop chain’s Saratoga Springs branch for way it inspected the limo.