Limousine crash at popular tourist spot kills 20 in NY

Limousine crash at popular tourist spot kills 20 in NY

State police say 20 people died in a crash in upstate NY that local officials say involved a limousine near a crowded tourist spot.

The Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe sits at a T-intersection where authorities say a limousine blew through a stop sign Saturday night and crashed into a parked SUV. Witnesses described a horrific scene following the crash, with people screaming and several bodies on the ground.

Barbara Douglas of Danamora reacts while talking about her four family members who died in Saturday's fatal crash in Schoharie on Sunday.

Patrick Cushing, Halse's boyfriend, was also killed in the crash. Schoharie Town Supervisor Alan Tavenner said Sunday the New York Department of Transportation had in recent years outlawed heavy trucks on the hill because of instances where runaway trucks lost their ability to apply the brakes down the steep grade. He said the limo was carrying out-of-towners during a busy tourist weekend, Stone Fort Days.

"I don't want to describe the scene", Kirby told the newspaper.

"This is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time", he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a "go-team" to the crash site from Washington DC, which are used to investigate major accidents.

More than 37,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the USA in 2017, according to federal data. Police said Sunday they were not releasing any of the victims' names, pending autopsies and notification of next of kin.

There were conflicting reports about where the passengers in the limousine were headed.


Sources familiar with case told Associated Press that 18 of the victims were in the limousine, while the remaining two were bystanders.

Two of the victims, Shane and Erin McGowan, were newlyweds.

His niece had worked in record-keeping at a hospital in Amsterdam and had recently married the love of her life, Vertucci told the Times Union. "Our lives have been changed forever".

Linda Riley of Schenectady, New York, says she was in a parked vehicle at the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie (skoh-HAY'-ree) on Saturday when she heard the noise.

Amy Steenburg, 29, and her husband Axel, 29, rented the limo to celebrate her 30th birthday party.

On Monday morning, standing at the intersection where the crash happened, Karina Halse cried as she confirmed to ABC's "Good Morning America" that her sister, 26-year-old Amanda Halse, and her sister's husband, Patrick Cushing, were among those killed. "They would do anything for you, and they were very close to each other, and they loved their family". She said she had exchanged text messages with her sister the day she died. The travel provider then sent a stretch limousine to take the group the rest of the way.

Speaking through tears, Valerie Abeling said her niece, Erin Vertucci, was among the victims. "She was a lovely, sweet soul".

A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don't have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits.

Jessica Kirby, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, told the New York Times that the limousine was probably traveling over 60 miles per hour as it came over the hill, and that the store was crowded with visitors from out of town because of the long holiday weekend. At this time, Ford does not have any information about the vehicle involved in this accident, but we are ready to cooperate with agencies who are investigating.

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