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Safety concerns over limousine raised three years ago

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A local limo driver claims that in the past he had driven the limousine involved in the fatal crash.

He says that he had problems with the vehicle three years ago and was nervous to get behind its wheel.

“That vehicle was absolutely unsafe,” Jared Bentley, a limo/taxi driver, said.

Bentley says in 2015 he drove for a limo company that shared services and vehicles with Prestige Limousine based out of a Gansevoort motel.

The company and its operator now at the center of a criminal investigation.

Jared said it wasn’t uncommon for his boss, who shared a garage with Prestige to borrow vehicles if one of his broke down, including a 2001 Stretch Excursion limo which he believes is the same one involved in the fatal Schoharie crash.

Bentley said he didn’t feel safe getting behind the wheel of the limousine.

“Believe it or not I was terrified. The weight of these vehicles is very high and you couldn’t stop in this vehicle, you just couldn’t stop. You really had to put your foot on the brake.”

He claims his company and Prestige did the bare minimum with regards to repairs. He claims the same limo even broke down while he was transporting local high schoolers to a prom.

“It started smoking and parents were scared they didn’t want their kids riding in it.”

Jared says he left the company, but not before contacting the Department of Transportation.

The same agency that found several violations with the limo in the crash.

“How did you know the one you’re saying you had brake problems with in the past is the same vehicle that ended up in the ravine?” 

“Because on the day that we were going to the prom he had borrowed that vehicle from Prestige.”

He says he was able to identify the limo’s unique exterior during news reports.

“I grieve for the families. I’m not surprised because they never stayed on top of their vehicles.”

NEWS10 ABC reached out to the New York Department of Transportation to verify Bentley’s claim that he filed a complaint, and DOT referred us to New York State Police.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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