Rockland/Westchester Journal News
Published 8:40 PM EDT Oct 9, 2018
LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. — Kim Lisinicchia heard only her husband's side of phone conversations with the manager of the limousine company where he worked.
But each time Scott Lisinicchia — the 53-year-old driver in Saturday's horrific limo crash that killed him, 17 passengers and two bystanders — was clear: He was not going to drive a car that wasn't in good condition, she said.
"He didn't want to put anyone in jeopardy," she said Tuesday.
Now his grieving widow is trying to come to grips with what could have gone wrong. She believes it had to be a mechanical problem or a road condition.
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She said she prays for the other victims of the crash and wishes she could tell their families how much "he took to heart and consideration how safe he wanted them all to be."
The Lake George resident was driving 17 people for a birthday trip to Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, about 40 miles west of Schoharie, where the accident occurred.
Just before 2 p.m., he headed down a hill on state Route 30 but drove through a stop sign, crossed Route 30A and slammed into an unoccupied sport-utility vehicle in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe. The impact drove the SUV into two men standing in the parking lot. All 18 people in the limousine and the two men were killed.
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It was the deadliest road accident in the United States in 13 years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered the state's flags to fly at half staff from Thursday until the final victim is buried; flags already were scheduled to be at half staff Monday to Wednesday to observe National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend.
Scott Lisinicchia had a commercial driver's license but lacked the required "passenger endorsement" to drive 15 or more adult passengers, authorities said Monday.
The vehicle, owned by Prestige Limousine, was a 2001 Ford Excursion that did not get the proper certification after it was altered to become a limousine, authorities said. A month before the crash, it also was ordered to be taken out of service because of inadequate maintenance and a defective emergency exit.
The couple met 11 years ago at an Elks Lodge and married the following year. Kim Lisinicchia had a 7-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, and Scott Lisinicchia "accepted my children as his own, and that takes a lot," she said.
He had driven tractor-trailers for years and later dump trucks, but a hip injury made driving big vehicles difficult and he stopped. An operation helped, but Scott Lisinicchia had had enough of trucks and became a cab driver.
Last year, he saw on Craigslist that Prestige in Wilton, about 20 miles away, was looking for a limo driver.
He answered the ad and started working for them on weekends. During the week, he was an Uber driver.
The Lisinicchias would drive everywhere, most recently to Florida where Kim Lisinicchia's daughter was competing in a pageant. They loved campfires and watching movies at home.
On Saturday, he was in a good mood, even though he had said he had to switch the limo he was going to use because of a problem, she said.
"He left in good spirits," she said. "He said 'I love you.' I said 'I love you.' "
While he was out, she would always hear, so she said she was very surprised when he hadn't called in several hours.
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The Lisinicchia family's lawyer, George Longworth, and Richard Burke, an investigator and former Mount Vernon police commissioner, went to the crash scene Monday. Kim Lisinicchia said she didn't believe her husband was familiar with the intersection.
Burke described it as the bottom of a mountain with a posted 50 mph speed limit where stopping would be difficult if anything were wrong with the brakes.
"The family believes that unbeknownst to him he was provided with a vehicle that was neither roadworthy nor safe for any of its occupants," Longworth said in a statement.
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He urged people to reserve judgment until the New York State Police and the National Transportation Safety Board conclude their investigations.
Burke said he learned from Lisinicchia's twin brother that the autopsy revealed no medical conditions that could have contributed to the crash.
Before taking down her Facebook page Monday, Kim Lisinicchia posted that “Scotty” was her best friend.
“It hurts me to a core to have to bury my husband,” she wrote.
She also posted a link to a GoFundMe page that a friend set up for contributions to help the family with funeral expenses. By Tuesday evening, 80 people had contributed more than $3,000 toward a $15,000 goal.
The page drew some hurtful comments about Kim Lisinicchia's husband as the driver who caused the tragedy. In the days after the crash, she read them as well as others on social media.
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"How can people be so cruel?" she asked. "I understand people are angry. I'm angry, too. But I'm not going to lash out on someone that just lost someone major in their lives. I lost the love of my life."
She has never been to the intersection, and she said she never wants to.
"I don't want to be reminded," she said. "I want to remember my husband just as I left him that day. I said 'I love you.' I kissed him. ... He was happy."
Contributing: Jon Campbell, Gannett Albany Bureau. Follow Jonathan Bandler on Twitter: @jonbandler