Automobile mechanics expert testifies in Schoharie limo trial

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Brian Chase, a nationally recognized expert in accident reconstruction science and automobile mechanics, was the only person who took the stand at the Schoharie limo trial of Nauman Hussain on Friday. The former New Hampshire state trooper delivered mostly expected, but also stunning testimony.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney Lee Kindlon angrily pressed Chase on how he drew his conclusion about the cause of the 2018 limo tragedy that claimed 20 lives. Kindlon asked him if he was aware that two Mavis Discount Tire employees admitted under oath Wednesday they had falsified and fabricated an invoice claiming they had provided parts and labor to repair the limo. No service was provided, and Hussain was billed for it.

Chase said he had no knowledge of that fraud, and he didn’t base his conclusion and opinions on Mavis invoices.

“The temperature in the braking system was so extreme, brake fluid would have boiled, meaning the operator experienced a soft pedal. In other words, he could push the pedal to the floor, but with no braking capability,” Chase said.

“I’ve never encountered the amount of thermal distress (highly heated components) in a disc brake system than I did in this Ford Excursion limo. The odor was unbearable,” he said.

“The cause of the limousine crash on October 6, 2018, was catastrophic brake failure attributable to a failure of proper brake maintenance,” he said.

Kindlon challenged Chase on that repeatedly.

“Were you aware my client brought his limo to Mavis three times in five months asking them to repair brakes,” asked Kindlon.

Chase said he wasn’t aware of that.  

Kindlon followed up: “Don’t you think it would have made a difference if Mavis had made the repairs and not lied about it?”

“I did not base my opinion on what Mavis did,” Chase said.