It should be a fun ride in a white stretch limousine to a birthday party. But for 17 friends, the trip ends at Schoharie in the US state of New York deadly.
The police confirmed on Sunday afternoon the total number of 20 dead. All 18 occupants of the sedan including the driver were killed. In addition, two pedestrians were fatally injured at the scene, said Christopher Fiore of the New York State Police. All victims are adults.
Her newly married niece Erin and her husband Shane are among the dead, said Valerie Abeling the US channel CNN. In a brewery in Cooperstown they wanted to celebrate the 30th birthday of a friend. The 30-year-old and her three sisters were killed in the limousine. Several young couples, some of them parents of small children, are among the victims. “It’s a terrible tragedy,” Abeling said. “We lack the words to describe our feelings.”
The accident occurred on Saturday – in the excursion site about 270 kilometers north of the US metropolis New York. According to the police, the limousine crossed a road junction and crashed into a parking lot on a parked, empty car. There, the two pedestrians were fatally injured. Photos of the completely demolished accident car in a ditch to see next to deep lanes in the mud is a torn tire.
The accident happened in front of a cafe, which also includes a shop. The operators wrote on their Facebook page, it came before the Apple Barrel Country Store to a terrible accident. The sedan drove down a sloping road too fast. The customers were hit near the parking lot, said manager Jessica Kirby of the “New York Times”. She did not want to describe the terrible scene any further. This was a dangerous intersection, where frequent accidents happened, Kirby complained.
Further information on the possible cause of the accident and the identity of the victims did not make the police initially. It was still unclear whether the driver drove too fast or whether the brakes did not work. Several authorities were busy with the investigation of the incident, it said. “Twenty dead – that’s just terrible,” said Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB. It was the most serious accident in the US since February 2009. At that time, a passenger plane had crashed into a house when it landed on the airport in Buffalo, also in the US state of New York. All 49 people on board and one man on the ground were killed.
On many questions from reporters the investigators did not answer on Sunday. About the driver of the sedan was initially not known. He had been forced to wear a seatbelt, but for the passengers in the back seats that was not mandatory, said Christopher Fiore of the New York State Police.
The sudden death of so many people in a village of 3000 inhabitants was “completely unbelievable,” said Alan Tavenner, city chairman of Schoharie. “It breaks my heart to think of the 20 people who have lost their lives in this terrible accident,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said.