In upstate New York , a limousine carrying four sisters their relatives and friends to a birthday celebration blew through a stop sign and slammed into a parked SUV outside a store and killed everyone in the limo including two pedestrians, officials and victim’s relatives said on Sunday.
Authorities said that this far by the deadliest transportation accident in nearly a decade. The limousine was carrying sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.
Their aunt was devastated and spoke to reporters saying “They were wonderful girls”, and “They’d do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family.” Three of the sisters were with their husband and the Aunt Barbara identified the victims as Amy and Axel Steenburg, Abigail and Adam Jackson. Mary and Rob Dyson and Allison King.
“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” she said, adding the couples had several children between them who they left at home.
The Limousine was a 2001 Ford Excursion was travelling southwest, when it failed to stop at a T junction at State Route 30 A, a member of the State Police Department, Christopher Fiore said at a news conference.
He stated that the Limo went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrek Country Store, killing the driver, 17 passengers as well as two pedestrians instantly.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash as the vehicle was an after-market stretch limousine, the problem with such vehicles is the safety issue – due to several accidents with similar types of cars, a grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don’t have safety measures such as accessible emergency exits, side impact airbags, seat belts or reinforced rollover protection bars.
After careful assessment, the grand jury called on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to assemble a task force on limousine safety. The grand jury wrote ” Limousines built in factories are already required to meet stringent safety regulations, but when cars are converted into limos, safety features are sometimes removed, leading to gaps in safety protocols,”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer in a statement on Sunday said “My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie. I commend the first responders who arrived on the scene and worked through the night to help … I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy.”