Limousine In Deadly Crash Had Been Modified To Fit More Passengers

20 people killed in car crash involving limo in upstate New York

Joshua Lott Reuters

A limousine carrying four sisters, other relatives and friends to a birthday celebration blew through a stop sign and slammed into a parked SUV outside a store in upstate NY, killing all 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians, officials and victims' relatives said Sunday.

The vehicle was reportedly owned by Prestige Limousine and Cuomo said the Excursion's driver didn't have a commercial driver's license with a passenger endorsement.

State police officials seized three of the company's vehicles, in addition to the modified limo involved in the crash, Patnaude said.

When she got out of her vehicle, she saw a body on the ground and broken tree branches everywhere, she said.

On Monday New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, criticized Prestige for "putting a failed vehicle on the road".

Reuters was not able to reach Prestige Limousine for comment and the company's listed phone number was disconnected.

They were headed to an upstate NY brewery, but never made it, officials said.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a "go-team" to the crash site from Washington DC, which are used to investigate major accidents.

The brewery trip had been planned to celebrate her niece Amy Steenberg's 30th birthday, Douglas told CBS News.

Investigators were determining whether the regulations for limousines, whose passengers are not required to wear seat belts, are adequate.

"This may be a small city, but we are a huge city with a huge heart and just like the sign says, we are 'Amsterdam Strong.' Right now it's hard to bear what we have to bear, but we will get through it". Axel and Amy Steenburg, newlyweds from Amsterdam, N.Y., had rented the limo, Axel Steenburg's stepfather told The New York Times.

"I don't know how people move forward from it", added Andrea Orokos, sister-in-law of Rich Steenberg. The crash left no visible skid marks, but that might be due to misty weather or anti-lock brakes, Sumwalt said.

The women's aunt, Barbara Douglas, told the New York Post they were "beautiful girls". The Times Union, citing local officials, reported that the limo sped down a hill and crashed into bystanders at the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe.

"If there's anything they feel is unsafe that they would not operate that vehicle, they will write that up on a sheet that goes to our service department and that vehicle would be taken out of service immediately", Palfy said. "It just hurts", Karina Halse told CNN on Monday while visiting the scene of the accident in Schoharie where her older sister, Amanda Halse, was killed.

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Officials say it is the deadliest crash since the 2009 when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people.

The families of McGowen and her husband Shane McGowan, who were both in the limo Saturday, are also still grabbling with the news that the couple, who had just gotten married in June, is now gone.

Newlywed couples, parents of two little girls and four sisters are among the 20 people pronounced dead in a horrific limo crash in NY. Those kinds of altered vehicles have anxious officials because after-market modifications can affect a vehicle's structural integrity and safety, said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board.

"My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie", he said.

But a lawyer for the driver's family said the limo had problems.

On Sunday, New York's senior U.S. Sen., Chuck Schumer, noted he asked NTSB to toughen standards after the 2015 crash.

Erin and Shane McGowan - who also married in June - died, too, in the tragic accident, say relatives. "They were the Four Musketeers".

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