The wife of the driver in a New York limousine crash that killed 20 people is defending her late husband and casting blame on the company that employed him.
Investigators have said Scott Lisinicchia’s state at the time of the crash – namely, whether he was impaired or fatigued in some way – will be integral to their probe. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said Lisinicchia did not have the proper driver’s license to operate the stretch Ford Excursion involved in the Schoharie accident.
Lisinicchia had been transporting 17 guests to a birthday party at a brewery in upstate New York when he ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV, officials say. Everyone in the limo died, along with two pedestrians.
In an interview with CBS, Kim Lisinicchia told CBS that her husband was an excellent driver and she doesn’t understand why there is so much focus on the license “because even if he didn’t have the proper license, this still would have happened, and I feel like he still would have got blamed.”
Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service, which employed Scott Lisinicchia, “should’ve been more responsible” when it had people’s lives in its hands, she said, according to CBS.
CNN’s attempts to reach Kim Lisinicchia have been unsuccessful. Grant & Longworth, a law firm with which she has consulted, said in a statement the family requests privacy.
“The family believes that unbeknownst to (Scott Lisinicchia), he was provided with a vehicle that was neither roadworthy nor safe for any of its occupants,” the statement said without elaborating.
Asked via email if she would be available in light of the CBS interview, the law firm declined.
The Lake George, New York, woman told CBS she heard from her husband about three hours before the crash. She learned of the accident from his boss, she said.
Scott Lisinicchia was in excellent health, she told the network, and he took driving seriously. He’d been a driver for more than 20 years, she added.
Questioned about whether her husband was aware of problems with the company’s vehicles, she provided conflicting answers.
Her husband had complained to her more than once about the vehicles, Kim Lisinicchia told the network, and she once overheard him demand another vehicle, saying, “I’m not going to drive this like this. You need to give me another car.” It was not clear when she overheard him say this.
Asked directly if Scott Lisinicchia knew something was wrong with Prestige’s vehicles, she said, “Not really. He trusted in what the limo company said – that the cars were all right.”
Despite Gov. Cuomo’s claims about Scott Lisinicchia’s license, attorney Lee Kindlon has said not only was the 53-year-old properly licensed, but that Prestige had checked multiple times with the the state Department of Motor Vehicles, which confirmed Lisinicchia was in compliance.
Lisinicchia had been with the company for years and was a “very reliable employee and a great driver,” said Kindlon, who represents Prestige. His wife told CBS he had been with Prestige for “a little over a year.”
The driver’s brother, Keith Lisinicchia, told CNN affiliate WRGB that Scott Lisinicchia also drove tractor trailers and dump trucks, and he can’t see his brother driving without the proper license, he told the station.
“He was probably just doing his job and trying to get the people to where they’re supposed to go, and taking whatever car that was given to him,” he said. “I know that he always kept his license up. … I know that he always made sure that it was valid and was in order.”
Prestige is looking into Lisinicchia’s history as part of an internal investigation, Kindlon said. It’s also collecting maintenance records, driver logs and ownership records, which it will turn over to authorities, he said.
In its statement, the law firm speaking for Kim Lisinicchia urged patience as authorities work to find out what happened.
“We ask all members of the media and public to reserve judgement on the cause of the crash until the New York State Police and the National Transportation Safety Board complete their investigations,” it said.
CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia contributed to this report.