Vigil Planned For 20 Victims Of Limo Crash In Schoharie, N.Y.

Oct 8, 2018
Originally published on October 8, 2018 9:02 am
Copyright 2018 Northeast Public Radio. To see more, visit Northeast Public Radio.

NOEL KING, HOST:

We're going to go now to a tragic story from upstate New York. Twenty people are dead after a limousine crash this weekend. Lucas Willard of member station WAMC has this story.

LUCAS WILLARD, BYLINE: On Saturday afternoon, an SUV stretch limousine was carrying 18 people through the rural town of Schoharie, about 40 miles west of Albany. The 2001 Ford Excursion limo went through the intersection of New York State Routes 30 and 30A. National Transportation Safety Board Chair Robert Sumwalt said the crash is one of the worst he's seen in his 12 years on the NTSB board.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROBERT SUMWALT: This is the most deadly transportation accident in this country since February of 2009.

WILLARD: A 2009 plane crash near Buffalo killed 50 people. State police First Deputy Superintendent Christopher Fiore told reporters Sunday afternoon all of those killed in Schoharie were adults.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRISTOPHER FIORE: The limousine traveled across the intersection into a parking lot and struck a 2015 Toyota Highlander that was unoccupied and parked. Two pedestrians standing nearby were also struck and killed.

WILLARD: Everyone inside the limo was killed. As of Sunday afternoon, state police had not released the identities of the victims, pending notification of the families, though names had started to emerge. Amy Dunlop-Johnson, who identified herself as a cousin of two people inside the limo, said the group was celebrating.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

AMY DUNLOP-JOHNSON: My cousin's wife was going to be turning 30 on October 10 so they were - they got a limo, and they were going from winery to winery to celebrate.

WILLARD: Officials are still trying to figure out what caused the accident. Schoharie town supervisor Alan Tavenner drove by the scene on his way to church Sunday morning. He called the intersection at the bottom of a steep hill dangerous. Tavenner says the town has complained to the state transportation department about safety issues.

ALAN TAVENNER: About four years ago, they finally banned tractor-trailers from the side road from Route 30 coming down because they had at least two instances where the tractor-trailers lost their brakes and went through the intersection.

WILLARD: The accident is sure to have a lasting impact on the farming community of about 3,000.

TAVENNER: It's just a tragedy. It really is. It's an incredible number of people for a community this small.

WILLARD: A community vigil is planned for Tuesday evening. NTSB staff will remain in Schoharie throughout the week. For NPR News, I'm Lucas Willard in Albany, N.Y. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.