A tragic limousine accident that claimed the lives of 20 people upstate appears to have a local connection.
The 18-passenger limousine that crashed over the weekend in Schoharie, west of Schenectady, was owned by Shahed Hussain, according to Albany’s Times Union. Hussain was reportedly a one-time FBI informant responsible for foiling an alleged bomb plot against the Riverdale Temple and Riverdale Jewish Center in May 2009.
Hussain reportedly owned a motel in Wilton which also doubled as the business address for his car company involved in Saturday’s accident, Prestige Limousine. The motel was also believed to be Hussain’s home, according to the report, although a manager told reporters Brendan J. Lyons and Larry Rulison that Hussain moved out of the motel more than a year ago.
As of Monday night, the company was under investigation for reportedly not only having an improperly licensed driver behind the crashed limousine, but that the vehicle itself had failed a vehicle inspection, and should not have been on the road.
The limousine, which had 18 people inside — including the driver — celebrating a birthday, when the vehicle crashed into a parking lot near the intersection of Route 30A and Route 30. Two pedestrians were also killed in the accident.
With yet another building operated by the New York City Housing Authority testing positive for the bacteria that could lead to Legionnaires’ disease, U.S. Rep. Adirano Espaillat is calling for the immediate testing of all NYCHA buildings in the city to find out if there are any other threats to residents of the deadly infection.
“I have been informed of eight new cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Lower Washington Heights, bringing the cumulative total to more than 30 cases since the start of the summer,” Espaillat said in a release. That includes not only Saint Nicholas Houses in Central Harlem, but also Fort Independence Houses in Kingsbridge, which reported a small Legionnaires’ outbreak this past summer.
“I am outraged at the lack of priority this health crisis has garnered from New York City and demand that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene immediately test all water cooling units beloning to all residential property units — public and private — in the five boroughs for the presence of Legionella bacteria, and if it is found, to immediately mitigate and treat to prevent the spread of Legionnaires’ disease.
The bacteria typically spreads through water mist, but generally only affects those who are elderly or with weakened immune systems.
NYCHA buildings aren’t the only ones hit recently with the bacteria. Earlier this year, Hebrew Home at Riverdale reported its own problems with Legionnaires’, but said everyone affected were successfully treated.
CORRECTION: The bacteria commonly associated with Legionnaires’ disease was discovered at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale in November 2017. A Press Points item Oct. 11 indicated a different time period.