Limo that crashed in NY, killing 20, failed inspection

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly crash in Schoharie New York.         Source Associated Press

The crash about 170 miles north of New York City came three years after another deadly stretch-limo wreck in New York state spurred calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to examine such vehicles' safety.

But media reports and interviews detailed the devastation.

A limousine loaded with people headed to a birthday party blew the stop sign at the end of a highway and slammed into an SUV parked outside a store, killing all people in the limo and a few pedestrians, officials and relatives of the victims said.

Valerie Abeling said her niece, Erin Vertucci McGowan and Erin's husband Shane McGowan, died together. She and Axel, 29, had married in Saratoga on June 30.

In Mrs Steenburg's last ever Facebook post, dated on 3 October, she thanked her husband for "being so kind and loving".

Shortly after the white stretch limousine arrived, McGowan texted Abeling's daughter to say the vehicle appeared to be in awful condition. The 2001 Ford Excursion was traveling southwest on State Route 30 when it didn't stop at the intersection with State Route 30 A and collided with an SUV in the parking lot, Fiore said.

Jessica Kirby, the managing director of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Café, said there have been "more accidents that I can count" at the T-junction of Route 30 and state Route 30A.

The crash "sounded like an explosion", said Linda Riley, who was on a shopping trip with her sisters and had been in their parked vehicle at the time at the store.

Within seconds, the limousine lost control, careening through the intersection and hitting an empty vehicle.

The driver was also killed in the crash, they said, adding that the victims would not be officially named until families had been informed.

Because autopsies were still being conducted, officials declined to confirm the names of the crash victims on Monday, but family members of some victims confirmed their identities.

Amy and Axel Steenburg Wednesday in June and were celebrating Amy's birthday when their driver lost control of the vehicle in upstate NY. There were newlyweds and young couples and four sisters, all on their way to revel at an upstate NY brewery.

"They were wonderful girls", the sisters' aunt, Barbara Douglas, told The Associated Press. "They would do anything for you, and they were very close to each other, and they loved their family".

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 did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn't have to drive anywhere", she said, telling the paper that several of the couples had young children.

The crash occurred near the town of Schoharie in NY state on Saturday afternoon.

The 19-seat vehicle had at least some seat belts, but it was unclear whether anyone was wearing them, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

"Twenty fatalities is just horrific", he said. "We have to do things right".

It's the deadliest transportation accident since February 2009, when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people, Sumwalt said. Prestige agreed to take its fleet of cars off the road in the wake of the accident, according to a Monday statement.

The mourners congregated Monday evening near a pedestrian bridge in the city of 17,000 that was home to many of those killed.

After the Long Island crash, Sen.

The NTSB, a federal agency, is investigating the crash and will look at the adequacy of regulations for limousines, whose passengers are not required to wear seat belts.

Schumer added, "I commend the NTSB's immediate aid on scene and am very confident that we will have concrete answers soon".

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