Families of Schoharie limo crash victims applaud new safety legislation

AMSTERDAM – Families of the victims of the Schoharie limo crash gathered Friday morning with political leaders. They’re applauding new legislation that closes loopholes in the limousine industry.

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The families gathered in Amsterdam City Hall with Rep. Paul Tonko to celebrate the milestone, which they hope will prevent this from happening to anyone else.

The new safety requirements for limos will become law Monday, when President Biden is expected to sign the infrastructure bill.

The new legislation requires safety research on limos, it requires limo companies to tell customers about inspection history, and it gives states money to impound unsafe limos. It also mandates that the Department of Transportation establish a yearly inspection for limos.

Twenty people lost their lives in the 2018 crash. Tonko says the faulty limo likely would have been impounded if these laws were in place.

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He says the families have successfully said "never again" to deadly limo crashes. Families say their success offers them a small sense of closure they didn’t get in court.

"With the recent and very disappointing criminal trial result, justice simply wasn’t served for our families. Having said that, that’s not why we’re here today. Today with the passage of the infrastructure bill, we take a major step forward in making the limousine industry a safer industry," said Kevin Cushing, the father of limo crash victim Patrick Cushing.

Cushing says the families were upset there will be no jail time for limo operator Nauman Hussain.

"That doesn’t pass the litmus test for justice, and the families were disappointed. We remain disappointed. We lost our children forever. We lost our family members forever," he said.

Congressman Tonko says the victims would be proud of their families’ fight.

"I also have a vision of great young adults gathered together applauding this in another world, knowing that this lesson, painfully learned, is making a difference. Together, we have changed law and changed lives," he said.

And families say they continue to lean on each other as they heal.

"We have coalesced, and as a result of this tragedy, we have a new family, and it’s the other families that were impacted. And we love them, we respect them, we prop them up when they need it, they prop us up when we need it," Cushing said.

"There was no way on Earth we were going to lose our children, our spouses, our siblings, our family members and let it go unnoticed. We were going to make a difference, and I’ll be darned, we made a difference," said Jill Richardson-Perez, mother of Matthew.