A group of friends and family members heading to a birthday party were killed along with the driver of the limo they were riding in and two bystanders when the stretch SUV careened down a hill and into the parking lot of a popular country store in upstate New York, police and relatives say. New York State Police said 20 people were killed, including 18 in the limo, in the crash Saturday afternoon at Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie.
"The investigation at the scene revealed that a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling in a southwestern direction on State Route 30 and failed to stop at the intersection with State Route 30A," the state police said Sunday in a press release. "The limousine traveled across the intersection into a parking lot and struck a 2015 Toyota Highlander which was unoccupied and parked. That Highlander then struck and killed two pedestrians standing nearby."
The investigation into the crash, which happened about 1:55 p.m., is ongoing. It is being led by the state police, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. Albany Times Union reporter Paul Nelson tweeted, "Authorities probing if limo's brakes may have malfunctioned." According to the Times Union, the intersection where the crash occurred is known to be dangerous.
The NTSB said the crash is the deadliest transportation accident in the United States since 2009. "Twenty fatalities is just horrific," NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters "I've been on the board for 12 years, and this is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time." You can read more about the crash here.
Police have not yet released the names of the victims, but family members have started to identify them in local news outlets and on social media. The driver of the limo has been identified by his brother as Scott Lisinicchia.
Brian Hough, a professor at SUNY Oswego, has been identified as one of the two bystanders killed in the parking lot. His father-in-law, James Schnurr, also died in the parking lot, their family says.
The other victims include four sisters, along with the husbands of three of the sisters and the brother of one of the husbands. One of the sisters was recently married and was celebrating her 30th birthday. Another newlywed couple was also killed in the crash. According to family members, the victims identified so far include Amy King Steenburg and Axel Steenburg; Rich Steenburg; Mary King Dyson and Robert Dyson; Allison King; Abby King Jackson and Adam Jackson; Erin Vertuccci McGowan and Shane McGowan; Matthew Coons; Savannah Bursese; and Patrick Cushing. Many of the victims grew up together in the Amsterdam, New York, area.
The group was celebrating Amy Steenburg's 30th birthday. Amy and Axel were married on June 30, and several of the victims were in the wedding party, including Amy's three sisters: Abby, Mary and Allison, who was the maid of honor. Axel's brother, Rich, was his best man. Matthew Coons was a groomsman. He was killed Saturday along with his girlfriend, Savannah Bursese. Erin Vertucci McGowan and Shane McGowan were also recently married, on June 8. Erin McGowan's cousin, Patrick Cushing, was among the victims killed in the crash Sunday. Cushing's girlfriend, Amanda Halse, also died.
Also among the victims was Amanda Rivenburg, a friend of Amy Steenburg. Another friend, Rachael Cavosie, was also killed, according to her family. Michael Ukaj was identified by his family as also being one of the victims in the limo.
You can click through the gallery to see photos of the victims and read about them, or you can click on the victim's name below to go directly to his or her page: