The limousine in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York Saturday “failed inspections in the past,” New York state police officials said Monday, as they worked to piece together how the tragedy occurred.
The vehicle was taking 17 friends and family members to a birthday party at a brewery near Albany when the limo driver lost control just before reaching a dangerous intersection in Schoharie, careened through a stop sign, crashed into a parked vehicle and landed in a shallow ravine, according to news reports.
Two of the victims were bystanders and were killed when the out-of-control limo plowed into the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe in Schoharie, New York. The 18 other victims were inside the limo.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, which is the deadliest accident in the United states in almost 10 years.
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Here are the latest updates:
Update 5:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 8: New York authorities are trying to piece together exactly how a deadly limousine crash unfolded Saturday in Schoharie on Saturday, killing 20, including, killing 18 people inside the limo and two on the ground.
The names of the victims have not been released because State Police Major Robert E. Patnaude said Monday the autopsies and interviews with witnesses and family members are incomplete.
Patnaude confirmed during a Monday press conference that a criminal investigation is underway.
“It’s a very difficult investigation for us to do. We investigate fatal crashes all the time all year round, but the magnitude of this one,” Petnaude said as he shrugged and was interrupted by reporters questions.
He said the limo driver was not licensed to operate the vehicle and that it had failed inspections in the past.
He also said authorities have been in touch with the owner, who was out of the country.
Authorities have seized three vehicles from Prestige Limousine, the company that operated the one involved in the fatal crash, Patnaude said.
New York State Police hold press conference to update deadly limo crash investigation. (10/8/18) https://t.co/dX6H8wIHcr— NewYorkStatePolice (@nyspolice) October 8, 2018
The victims were all active on social media before the crash occurred and Patnaude asked that anyone with posts from any of the victims contact authorities.
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT Oct. 8: The Associated Press reported that the Governor of New York said the limo that was involved in the crash had failed inspection last month and was not supposed to be on the road.
BREAKING: New York governor says limo in crash that killed 20 failed an inspection last month, was not supposed to be on the road.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 8, 2018
Update 5:46 a.m. EDT Oct. 8: Although authorities have not officially released the names of those who died in the limo crash, family members have identified some of the victims to The Associated Press. They include four sisters, three of whom were with their husbands: Amy and Axel Steenburg, Abigail and Adam Jackson, Mary and Rob Dyson, and Allison King. The AP also reported that Erin Vertucci, 34, and her husband, Shane McGowan, 30, died in the crash.
Update 5:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: A relative of one of the victims told The Associated Press that the limo was heading to a birthday party, not a wedding, as previously reported, when the crash occurred.
BREAKING: The aunt of one of the victims in a limousine crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York says the vehicle was on its way to birthday celebration. https://t.co/k6tZIOav5O— The Associated Press (@AP) October 7, 2018
While authorities have said they will not officially release the identities of any of the victims until all the families have been notified and autopsies performed, The New York Times has identified several of the people killed in the crash.
A friend of many of the victims told the Times that they were a “tight-knit group of mostly 30-somethings,” who were always hanging out and throwing backyard parties.
At least three of the victims were two brothers and a wife of one of the brothers, Lester Andrews, the stepfather of the two bothers told the newspaper.
Andrews identified those three victims as Axel Steenburg, 29, Rich Steenburg, 34, and Axel Steenburg’s wife Amy.
Update 3:15 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: New York State Police First Deputy Superintendent Christopher Fiore said one of the victims was transported to a local hospital by medical evacuation, but later died. “I believe there was one victim that was transported to Albany Med (Albany Medical Center) with a medevac,” he said.
Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said an investigation is underway and is expected to take five days. NTSB will work with state police and conduct its own investigation. The cause of the crash will be determined at a later date, Sumwalt said.
“Twenty fatalities is just horrific,” Sumwalt said. “I’ve been on the board for 12 years and this is one of the biggest loss of lives we’ve seen in a long, long time. Colgan Air (flight) up at Buffalo killed 40 people -- 50 people -- but this is the most deadly transportation accident in this country since February of 2009.”
On Feb. 12, 2009, 50 people were killed when Continental Connection Flight 3407 crashed into a house.
Update 3:00 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: New York State Police First Deputy Superintendent Christopher Fiore said at a news conference Sunday that 18 people in a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine, including the driver, died when the driver failed to stop at an intersection, hitting an empty, parked car and two adult bystanders. All victims are adults.
The identities of the victims will not be released at this time pending the autopsies and notifications of families. Autopsies are underway.
Update 1:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted a statement in response to the accident.
“Heartbroken to learn of the terrible accident in Schoharie,” Schumer said in a tweet Sunday afternoon. “May God bless the families who lost loved ones, as well as my dear friends from Schoharie emergency service agencies who responded.”
Heartbroken to learn of the terrible accident in Schoharie. May God bless the families who lost loved ones, as well as my dear friends from Schoharie emergency service agencies who responded.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) October 7, 2018
Update 1:20 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement in response to the crash:
“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. State police are working with federal and local authorities to investigate the crash, and I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy.
“I join all New Yorkers in mourning these deaths and share in the unspeakable sorrow experienced by their families and loved ones during this extremely difficult time.”
Update 12:40 p.m. EDT Oct. 7: According to a source to The Associated Press, 18 people died in the limo and two victims were bystanders. The person asked to speak on the condition of anonymity as they have knowledge of the investigation and could not speak publicly.
BREAKING: AP source says 18 of the victims in upstate New York crash were in limo, 2 were bystanders.— The Associated Press (@AP) October 7, 2018
State police in New York said in a news release Sunday that 20 people were killed in a crash in upstate New York.
“The names of the victims are not being released at this time as next of kin are being notified,” the release said.
Apple Barrel is taking donations for local volunteer emergency services, according to a post on its Facebook page Saturday.
“As you may be aware, there was a horrific accident in front of our business today. First, we want to thank all of the emergency services that responded. We are so thankful for all of you.
“We will be open for business for tomorrow. We hope you will come and share your smiles, love, friendship and hugs with us. We also hope you will share your change. We will be collecting donations for our local volunteer emergency services. They are the heroes of our small community.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected by the events of today. You will always be part of our family.
“(We will not be discussing the events of today any further. Thank you for understanding.)”
A dedicated phone line has been set up to assist family members of victims. Family members are asked to call 1-877-672-4911.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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