SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Four sisters are among the dead in a horrific limousine crash that killed 18 passengers celebrating a birthday and two pedestrians at an intersection about 25 miles west of Albany.
According to New York State Police, a 2011 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling on State Route 30 in Schoharie on Saturday afternoon when it failed to stop at an intersection with State Route 30-A, reports CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
The limo, on its way to a winery, drove into a parking lot and struck an empty SUV. The struck vehicle was hit with such force that it was thrown into the two nearby pedestrians who were killed, state police officials said.
“You just can’t wrap your head around it, you just can’t,” said Barbara Douglas, aunt of four victims. “They did the responsible thing so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere.”
Among the limo passengers were newlyweds Shane and Erin McGowan, Amy Steenburg and her husband Axel, as well as Axel’s brother Rich, Abigail and Adam Jackson, Mary and Rob Dyson, and Allison King.
Sources tell CBS2 the group was celebrating Amy’s 30th birthday, and Amy’s three sisters were also in the limo.
“The girls, they would do anything for you,” said Douglas. “One has two little children and one has one child and they no home, no parents.”
The National Transportation Safety Board and New York State Police will remain on the scene investigating. Authorities won’t say if anyone was wearing seat belts.
State Police have set up a dedicated phone line to assist the family members of the victims in Saturday’s crash.
“Throughout the next few days, NTSB investigators will work on scene to thoroughly document the scene and to gather what we call the perishable evidence,” NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was briefed and issued the following statement: “I join all New Yorkers in mourning these deaths and share unspeakable sorrow experienced by their families and love ones during this extremely difficult time.”
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the Apple Barrel Country Store thanked emergency responders for their actions following the “horrific” accident and began a fundraiser for local volunteer emergency units.