Limo owner explains what could have gone wrong in fatal fire

SAN JOSE, Calif.

When Russell McGillucuddy, who owns Air One Limousine Service in San Jose, heard about the fiery tragedy on Saturday night, several scenarios came to mind.

"The driver could not have a commercial license, he might not have maintained the equipment, he might have overloaded the equipment," he said.

The 120-inch stretch Lincoln limousine McGillucuddy owns bears only a casual resemblance to the older model that burned on Saturday night. But the auto locking mechanism has the same liability.

"If I am hitting the unlock handle, it will not allow the door to be opened [if someone is trying to open it at the same time]," McGillucuddy said. "Now if you stop trying to open it at the same time, it will open."

Theoretically, a fire in the back and a nonfunctional door would have driven passengers to the front of the car. But without an extra door in front, like the one in some newer models, there would be only one way out – the partition that opens to the driver's seat. The opening looks large enough, but not when you factor in the seat cushion. It would be extremely difficult for a small person, almost impossible for a large one…

"This would have been awful," McGillucuddy said. "Filled with smoke and flames. Nine people. And there are only three of us here."

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