Upstate New York roads where limo crash killed 20 are a menace, store says

Upstate New York roads where limo crash killed 20 are a menace, store says

The intersection had been redone in 2008 because of a fatal accident

The site of a devastating accident that killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of a limousine headed to a birthday party, including four sisters, is a known danger spot that has long worried locals, according to a manager of the store that sits at the intersection where the accident happened.

The intersection had been redone in 2008 because of a fatal accident there, said Jessica Kirby, managing director of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe, which is an institution in Schoharie and among the legions of leaf-peepers who take to the roads of upstate New York each autumn.

Since the reconstruction, three tractor-trailers have run through the same stop sign authorities said the limo blew and into a field behind her business, she said. Officials worked with the state to outlaw heavy trucks, she said, but there are still accidents.

And now this.

“More accidents than I can count,” she said in an email. “We have been asking for something to be done for years.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday saying he has “directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy.”

Autopsies were being performed; authorities didn’t say whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts or give the speed of the limo.

Relatives said the limousine was carrying four sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.

“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” their aunt, Barbara Douglas, said Sunday. She did not want to name them publicly but added: “They were wonderful girls. They’d do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family.”

Valerie Abeling, the aunt of victim Erin Vertucci, said her 34-year-old niece and her niece’s new husband, 30-year-old Shane McGowan, were victims.

“She was a beautiful, sweet soul; he was, too, they were very sweet,” Abeling said. “They were two very young, beautiful people” who “had everything going for them.”

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was travelling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 170 miles (270 kilometres) north of New York City when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, state police said. It went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel Country Store and two pedestrians.

The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas 2005, killing 23.

And it is the deadliest transportation accident overall since February 2009, when a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people, said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating.

The Apple Barrel’s Facebook page on Sunday reflected the concern around the accident in the tight-knit community.

“Yes, are open today. And could use your hugs,” it read. “We are doing our best to cope and grieve. We are a big family at the Apple Barrel, and part of the bigger family of Schoharie. We cope by being together. And that is why we are open.”

There were just 12 crashes involving large limos in the five years for which the agency has released statistics, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Twelve people were killed in limo crashes in that span, 2012 through 2016. Over the same period, 171,508 people were killed in 157,451 crashes involving all types of vehicles.

There was no information Sunday on the limousine, its origin or its integrity. But safety issues on such vehicles have arisen before, notably after a wreck on Long Island in July 2015 in which four women were killed.

They were in a Lincoln Town Car that had been cut apart and rebuilt in a stretch configuration to accommodate more passengers. The limousine was trying to make a U-turn and was struck by a pickup.

A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don’t have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits. That grand jury called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assemble a task force on limousine safety.

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, the grand jury wrote.

___

Salsberg reported from Boston. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Michael R. Sisak, Deepti Hajela and Verena Dobnik in New York; and John Kekis in Latham, New York.

Michael Hill And Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Most Read