Demand for Stronger Limo Laws Urged by Schoharie Crash Family Members

It was an emotionally charged day at the Legislative Office Building, as families of those killed in last October's limo crash in Schoharie and a 2015 crash on Long Island pleaded with lawmakers to make some meaningful changes in laws governing stretch limousines and limo drivers.

Among them, were training and drug testing for drivers.

Seat belts and air bags for the vehicles were also suggested, and in the event of a failed inspection, an immediate fix.

Jill Perez, the mother of Matthew Coons, one of those who died last fall, read a statement signed by representatives of all those riding in the limo that day,

Perez told lawmakers "we are not going away, and this will not be swept under the rug."

Perez said the vehicle twice failed state inspections, but was allowed to continue to carry passengers, even though many parts of the vehicle no longer worked.

State DOT Commissioner Ron Epstein said in his opinion Prestige Limousine "went out of its way to break the law."

Janet Steenburg, mother of Axel and Rich Steenburg, said this should never have been allowed to happen.

Kevin Barwell, the President of the Limousine Bus and Taxi owners of Upstate New York, says what's really needed is better enforcement.

Family members are demanding action before the legislature adjourns on June 19th.

Meanwhile, a bill that would put more information into the hands of limo customers is sitting in committee, according to Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

The bill, introduced after the tragedy in Schoharie, would create an online database of all carriers that operate stretch limousines, where consumers could see company records, current vehicle inspections and driver licensing information, even any violations.

Santabarbara says it would be very similar to the state's Office of the Professions Licensing database which is searchable for current licensing status and any violations prior to hiring.

Santabarbara says the data base would also include a way for consumers to report operators that are not following the law.

Photo: WNYT

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