The wife of the limo driver involved in the deadly crash in upstate New York said she feels her husband is being improperly blamed for the tragedy. Twenty people, including driver Scott Lisinicchia, were killed Saturday.
New York officials say Lisinicchia did not have a proper license to operate the vehicle and federal documents show the limo he was driving also failed an inspection in September.
Kim Lisinicchia told CBS News’ DeMarco Morgan her husband, Scott, had been working part-time for Prestige Limousine for more than a year. Investigators have not said what they believe caused the crash, but Kim told us she doesn’t think it had anything to do with Scott.
“It has been so difficult because I think about him every day,” Kim said.
She said the last time they spoke was Saturday morning before he went to work. When she hadn’t heard from him for about three hours, she says she started to feel like something might be wrong.
“I felt something, and so I called his boss…not the owner, but the son of the limo company. I was like, ‘Did you hear from Scott?’ And he said, ‘I’m glad you called me, ’cause there was an accident.'”
According to Kim, Scott was in “excellent health” and an “excellent driver.” “For over 20-plus years, he drove a tractor-trailer, that’s why I know something was wrong,” Kim said.
“I don’t know what that’s about,” she said when asked about her husband’s lack of a proper license. “Because…even if he didn’t have the proper license, this still would’ve happened and I feel like he still would have got blamed.”
Federal records show Prestige Limousines has been cited for 22 violations in the last 24 months. In September, three Prestige vehicles failed inspections and were cited for multiple violations – including no or defective emergency exits and malfunctioning brakes, according to federal records.
“Hearing about the violations with the fleet, Prestige Limousine’s fleet, are you bitter? Are you upset?” Morgan asked.
“Oh yeah, I am. Because they should have been more responsible. You have a company where you have people’s lives….In your hands. That’s unacceptable,” Kim said.
According to Kim, he’s complained about Prestige’s vehicles before.
“He did complain. There were a few times where he told me, like I overheard him say, ‘I’m not going to drive this, like this, you need to give me another car,'” Kim said.
“So he knew something was wrong with those vehicles?” Morgan asked.
“Not really… he trusted in what the limo company said, that the cars were alright,” Kim said. “But, please, I have to say, I feel for these victims, I feel for them….I am in no way trying to make it seem like its about me or my husband. I just want my husband to be vindicated….I have to stand for him ’cause nobody else will.”
The Albany Times Union newspaper reports that Scott was given a ticket in August for not having a proper license to operate the limo, and Prestige was notified. The paper also reports that just two days before the crash, someone was trying to sell what appeared to be that limo on Craigslist.
The limo company’s attorney said the vehicle was deemed road ready after it failed an inspection in September, but the New York State Department of Transportation told us in a statement that is “categorically false.” “The owner was warned not to operate the vehicle” and “the vehicle was placed out of service.”
In a statement, Prestige Limousine said: “We respect the family and their process of grief. Mr. Lisinicchia was a dear friend and dedicated driver and we, too, mourn because he is gone. At this time, we are putting our trust in the investigations in order to answer all the questions of causation and fault.”