Judge: Standoff over federal access to crashed limo must end

January 18, 2019
FILE - This Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, shows the wreckage of a limousine, partially hidden in the woods, following a fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y. More than three months after 20 people died in the crash, federal safety investigators have yet to get their hands on the most crucial piece of evidence, the wrecked vehicle itself. (Tom Heffernan Sr. via AP, File)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A judge has scheduled a conference between a local prosecutor and federal safety inspectors to try to forge an agreement over access to a limousine that crashed three months ago, killing 20 people.

Schoharie County Judge George Bartlett sent a letter Friday afternoon to District Attorney Susan Mallery and Kathleen Silbaugh, counsel to the National Transportation Safety Board, saying “This standoff must come to an end.”

Bartlett rejected Mallery’s assertion that her criminal investigation trumps the NTSB’s work.

The National Transportation Safety Board says Mallery has blocked federal investigators from getting within 15 feet (4.5 meters) of the limo that crashed Oct. 6 in rural Schoharie.

Bartlett scheduled a conference between prosecutors, defense lawyers and NTSB on Jan. 29.

The limousine’s operator has pleaded not guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

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