Four sisters among the victims in the horrific limo crash
INSUPPORTABLE. In the aftermath of the limousine crash that killed 20 people upstate New York, the questions arise on the sidelines of the huge sorrow and pain of the relatives and friends of the victims. The vehicle failed an inspection last month and should never have taken the road.
When the unthinkable happens. The driver of a supersized limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people outside an upstate New York country store wasn't properly licensed, and the limo failed a state safety inspection just last month and shouldn't have been on the road, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
It is still not clear whether the limousine crash was the driver's fault or a vehicle malfunction, Cuomo said, but that the National Transportation Safety Board and state police were investigating.
A spokesperson for Prestige Limousine did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Cuomo's statement.
A "chopped vehicle"
Cuomo said the limousine was a "chopped vehicle," meaning it had been cut and elongated and needed federal certification that it had been extended in a way that is compliant with the law, which it did not have.
The state ordered the owner, Prestige Limousine, shut down while an investigation continues into what Saturday's wreck in Schoharie.
Federal records show the company has undergone five inspections and had four vehicles pulled from service in the last two years.
The crash killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of the limousine, which was headed to a birthday party.
Authorities didn't say whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts or give the speed of the limo. Autopsies were being performed, including on the driver, to see if drugs were alcohol were a factor.
The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 170 miles north of New York City when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, state police said.
The limo went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel, a local institution and popular stop for autumn leaf-peepers. The impact killed two pedestrians standing nearby.
Three died with their husbands
Among the 18 passengers, four were sisters, three of whom died with their husbands. Axel and Amy Steenburg, newlyweds from Amsterdam, had rented the limo, Axel Steenburg’s stepfather told The New York Times. The group had gathered for a surprise party to celebrate Amy Steenburg’s 30th birthday.
It was Amy Steenburg's 30th birthday. The young couple had rented the limo. Her last words posted on Facebook were for Axel, her husband expressing to him all her love. The newlyweds were from Amsterdam like many of the other victims / Facebook
"I just wanted to say Axel Steenburg I love you more than words can say!" Amy wrote in the post has become a memorial to the couple, drawing hundreds of comments. "Thank you for being so kind and loving xo #justbecause #husband."
Valerie Abeling said her niece, Erin McGowan, 34, and her husband Shane, 30, were among the victims in the vehicle.Erin, who worked in a pediatrician's office, and Shane, who worked for Miracle Ear, were married in June.
“These were friends just starting their lives, getting married and this is how it ended,” told Abeling The Associated Press. “It’s a tragic loss of beautiful souls.”
A text message 20 minutes before
The aunt also told The Washington Post that Erin sent a text message 20 minutes before the accident complaining about the “terrible condition” of the limo, a last-minute replacement after a bus hired to shuttle the group broke down.
The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas 2005, killing 23.
It also marks the deadliest transportation accident overall since February 2009, when a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people, said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). His agency is investigating the crash, including whether the limo had any mechanical problems.
A vigil will be held Monday night in Amsterdam, a city of less than 20,000 people 25 miles north of the crash site where many victims lived. State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara called the crash a "devastating event impacting all parts of our community."
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