Behind the Schoharie Crash: an 'Outlaw Limo Company'

And at its helm, an FBI informant
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 22, 2022 3:05 PM CST
How an FBI Informant Factors Into the Schoharie Limo Crash
This Oct. 8, 2018, file photo shows debris scattered in an area at the site of a fatal limousine crash the day before in Schoharie, NY.   (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

On Oct. 6, 2018, the brakes went out on a modified Excursion that was carrying 17 friends and relatives who were headed to a New York brewery in celebration of a 30th birthday. The crash that ensued in Schoharie caused blunt-force trauma that killed nearly all of them instantly. "The carnage was so extreme that veteran paramedics attending the crash site developed disabling mental-health issues," writes Ben Ryder Howe in an in-depth piece for New York Magazine that digs deep into Shahed Hussain, the man who owned the company at the center of the crash: Prestige Limousine. As a Times Union reporter who covered the story for years told Howe, Prestige was an "outlaw limo company." Indeed, Howe's story starts by recounting how a state inspector had slapped an "OUT-OF-SERVICE" sticker on the Excursion's windshield a month before the crash; the company simply pulled the sticker off.

But it seemingly did so with impunity. "Its out-of-service rate—how often inspectors deemed its vehicles unsafe to drive—was 80%, more than 13 times the industry average," and yet they were allowed to continue to operate. Here's where the story turns to Hussain, a Pakistani immigrant who happened to be a heavily used FBI informant in the wake of 9/11. Howe details a number of cases Hussain was a part of: "They were legal landmarks in the War on Terror, helping establish the legitimacy of secret evidence, warrantless wiretapping, and the government's practice of inventing terror plots to entrap ordinary Americans." As one Albany attorney puts it, "The FBI enabled Shahed Hussain to feel that he could get away with anything." Which raises a troubling question: Does that make the government somehow "complicit in an unspeakable catastrophe?" (Read the fascinating full story.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.