Schoharie Limo Crash Trial: Saratoga DA requests briefing on Mavis’ role

FILE - Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen

FILE – Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen

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SCHOHARIE — Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen has contacted state police to gather information on the Mavis Discount Tire repair shop in Saratoga Springs that serviced the brakes of the limousine involved in the Oct. 6, 2018 crash that killed 20, Heggen said Wednesday.

“I’ve had my office reach out to the law enforcement agency who was involved in this case to be briefed on whatever information they have,” Haggen said. “I don’t know what they have or don’t have.”

The move comes just days after several mechanics admitted that they did not complete brake work on the 2001 stretched Ford Excursion SUV involved in the crash during the trial of Nauman Hussain, the operator of Prestige Limousine and Chauffeur Service.

Hussain, 33, faces 20 counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for his alleged role in the crash.

Heggan did not say if she plans to file charges at this point, but the move is an indication that an investigation into the repair shop could be imminent.

Mavis serviced the Exursion’s brakes on several occasions in the months leading up to the crash and also placed a state DMV safety inspection vehicle sticker on the limo despite not having the authority to inspect the limousine.

Last week, Virgil Park, the former manager of the repair shop in 2018, admitted that Hussain was charged for brake work that was never performed on May 11, 2018, including the replacement of a master brake cylinder and a brake line flush.

Park also admitted that he was not aware that the shop did not have the authority to inspect the vehicle, but said he told Hussain to “burn” the vehicle in June 2018, when Hussain brought the vehicle in for brake work.

He said he also warned Hussain that the vehicle was in need of extensive brake repairs and that the vehicle’s brakes could not be guaranteed.

Thomas Klingman, a former Mavis mechanic, also admitted that he never performed the DMV inspection, but passed the vehicle because he felt “pressured” by Park and did not want to lose his job.

Lee Kindlon, an attorney for Hussain, has latched on to the testimony as a way to push blame for the crash onto Mavis, who he has said should be investigated and charged for “falsifying” records.

A group of 17 friends from the Amsterdam area rented the Excursion limo to attend a birthday celebration in Cooperstown, but were killed shortly after boarding the vehicle after the limo suffered catastrophic brake failure while descending a steep hill on state Route 30. 

Brian Chase, a consultant hired by state police to determine the cause of the crash, testified last week that a rear brake line burst as the vehicle descended the hill, rendering the brakes inoperable, which put additional strain on the limo’s front brakes, causing them to overheat, melting the brake pads and boiling the brake fluid.

Chase, who said that several rear brake components were inoperable prior to the wreck, also testified that the master brake cylinder was working and had nothing to do with the crash.

Mavis Discount Tire, which faces a number of civil lawsuits for its alleged role in the wreck, could not immediately be reached for comment.

This story will be updated.

Columnist Andrew Waite contributed to this article. 


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