Officials find limo fire cause to be accidental, not criminal

Many of our California readers will no doubt remember a horrific car accident that happened in San Mateo in May. A stretch limousine was carrying nine friends, including a young woman who had recently married. A fire broke out in the rear of the vehicle, causing it to go up in flames. Five people died in the car accident; the cause of the incident was under investigation until this week.

Officials determined that the rotating drive shaft of the vehicle came in contact with the limo’s floorboard. There had been speculation that the car was overweighted; as it turned out, the vehicle was carrying two more passengers than was allowed by law. The livery company that operated the limo was fined $7,500 this week; however, officials said that the excess passengers were not the cause of the fatal fire.

Because of the intense nature of the fire and the smoke that it produced, the passengers were unable to get out through the rear doors of the vehicle. This left only the narrow opening between the rear of the vehicle and the driver’s compartment as the only escape route. Four passengers were able to get out, as was the driver; however, the other five people in the vehicle died in the fire.

Government officials emphasized that their findings showed the incident was not a crime and was ruled to be an accident. However, that does not prevent the people who survived or the families of those killed from seeking damages from the limo company.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Fatal limo fire brings company a $7,500 fine but no criminal charges,” Mario LaGanga, Aug. 20, 2013