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Limo Crash in Schoharie, New York
A group of friends and family members heading to a birthday party were killed along with the driver of the limo they were riding in and two bystanders when the stretch SUV careened down a hill and into the parking lot of a popular country store in upstate New York, police and relatives say. New York State Police said 20 people were killed, including 18 in the limo, in the crash Saturday afternoon at Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie.
“The investigation at the scene revealed that a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling in a southwestern direction on State Route 30 and failed to stop at the intersection with State Route 30A,” the state police said Sunday in a press release. “The limousine traveled across the intersection into a parking lot and struck a 2015 Toyota Highlander which was unoccupied and parked. That Highlander then struck and killed two pedestrians standing nearby.”
The investigation into the crash, which happened about 1:55 p.m., is ongoing. It is being led by the state police, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The cause of the crash has not yet been determined. Albany Times Union reporter Paul Nelson tweeted, “Authorities probing if limo’s brakes may have malfunctioned.” According to the Times Union, the intersection where the crash occurred is known to be dangerous.
The NTSB said the crash is the deadliest transportation accident in the United States since 2009. “Twenty fatalities is just horrific,” NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt told reporters “I’ve been on the board for 12 years, and this is one of the biggest losses of life that we’ve seen in a long, long time.” You can read more about the crash here.
Police have not yet released the names of the victims, but family members have started to identify them in local news outlets and on social media. The driver of the limo has been identified by his brother as Scott Lisinicchia.
Victims of the Limo Crash in Schoharie, New York
1/ Amy King Steenburg & Axel Steenburg
Amy King Steenburg, 29, was celebrating her birthday with her husband, Axel Steenburg, and other family and friends, her aunt, Barbara Douglas, told The New York Post. She would have turned 30 on October 10. Amy and Axel had recently been married after dating since 2015, according to their wedding website.
The couple lived together in Amsterdam. Amy Steenburg was a nurse and Axel Steenburg worked at GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturing company, as a senior technology and development tech, according to his Facebook page.
On October 3, Amy posted on Facebook about her husband, writing along with a photo of the two of them together, “I just wanted to say Axel Steenburg I love you more than words can say! You are such an amazing man and entertain all my crazy ideas. Even when I move a couch just to move it back to the original place. Thank you for being so kind and loving xo #justbecause #husband.”
Rich Steenburg, 34, was celebrating his sister-in-law’s birthday when he was killed. Like his brother, Rich Steenburg worked at GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturing company. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Steenburg family. He is survived by his wife, 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old stepson. Rich’s wife, Kim Steenburg, was not at the party Saturday because she wasn’t feeling well, a friend wrote on Facebook.
Allison King, 31, was celebrating her youngest sister’s birthday when she was killed in the limo crash along with her family members and friends.
She lived in Amsterdam, New York, according to her Facebook page. She was a customer service representative at Hill & Markes, Inc, according to her Linkedin profile. She was previously an assistant branch manager at Woodforest National Bank.
Tom King told The New York Post his four sisters were “very tight.” He told the newspaper his family was in shock. “They were the Four Musketeers,” he told The Post. “We all are what’s left. There was seven of us — five sisters and two brothers.”
A Facebook fundraiser has been set up to help the King family.
Abby King Jackson & Adam Jackson
Abigail King Jackson, 34, and her husband, Adam Jackson, also 34, were also among those killed in the crash. They are survived by their daughters, 4-year-old Archer and 16-months-old Ellie, according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to help their children.
“Adam and Abby were amazing parents to these girls and taken much too soon. While families will step in and provide loving care for these girls, there will be expenses that we can help with during this time when we otherwise feel so helpless,” their friend, Sarah Maltzman, wrote on the GoFundMe.
The couple had been married since 2010, according to Abby’s Facebook page. Abby Jackson was a teacher in the Greater Amsterdam School District. Her husband was a deputy commissioner on the Montgomery County Board of Elections.
Abby Jackson was a reading teacher in her hometown of Amsterdam, according to the Times Union. She worked at Lynch Middle School. “This is unspeakable. I can’t believe it,” Rich Peters, the leader of the Amsterdam Teachers Association, told the newspaper on Monday. He said he taught 17 of the victims of the crash when they were in school in Amsterdam. Abby and her sisters all graduated from Amsterdam High School.
Mary King Dyson & Robert Dyson
Mary King Dyson, 33, was celebrating her sister’s 30th birthday along with her husband, Robert Dyson, 33. The couple had been married since 2009 and are survived by their young son. They lived together in Watertown, New York.
Mary Dyson graduated from Clarkson University in 2007 with a degree in civil engineering and was vice president at Upstate Construction Services, according to her Linkedin profile.
She served in the U.S. Army as an engineer officer from 2007 to 2013. She also worked as a CrossFit coach.
Robert Dyson also graduated from Clarkson in 2007, with a degree in engineering and management, according to his Linkedin profile. He worked as a senior estimator at Stebbins Engineering & Manufacturing Company in Watertown. He was previously a correction’s officer from 2003 to 2007 with the Seneca County Sheriff’s Department.
A Facebook fundraiser has been set up to help the their family. “When someone speaks of a parent’s worst nightmare, only one thing comes to mind. On Saturday, October 6th, at 1:55 pm, this fear became a reality for Tom and Linda King. Not only did they lose a child, but they lost four of their beautiful daughters and their husbands.”
Erin Vertucci McGowan, 34, and Shane McGowan, were married in June 2018. On her Facebook page, Erin wrote about her husband, “One day someone will walk into your life & make you see why it never worked out with anyone else.”
Erin McGowan worked as a healthcare information technician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, New York, according to her Linkedin profile. She studied at The College of Saint Rose and SUNY Polytechnic Institute.
Shane McGowan, 30, graduated from Sage College of Albany in 2011, where he was a member of the golf team, according to his Linkedin profile. He worked as a hearing instrument specialist at Miracle Ear in Albany.
Matthew Coons & Savannah Bursese
Matthew Coons, 27, was a groomsman in Abby and Axel Steenburg’s wedding. He was killed along with his girlfriend, Savannah Devonne Bursese.
Coons, who was from Fultonville, New York, served in the Army as an infantryman from 2008 to 2012, according to his Facebook page. He worked as a certified personal trainer.
According to his Facebook page, Coons deployed oversees with the 2nd Battalion 5th Infantry HHC/Bravo scouts and also served as a member of the 3rd Brigade 1st Armored Division.
Savannah Bursese, 24, was from Broadalbin, New York, according to her Facebook page. Bursese attended Hartwick College, where she played volleyball, according to the school’s website. She graduated with a degree in political science. According to the college website, Bursese attended Broadalbin-Perth High School, where she was a two-year volleyball captain.
Both Coons and Bursese were members of an Amsterdam gym, Perth Ultimate Fitness, along with Axel, Amy and Rich Steenburg, according to the gym’s Facebook page.
“We have lost part of our gym family. It will never be the same here without you. You will be so missed and never forgotten. RIP Axel, Amy and Rich Steenburg, Matt Coons and Savannah Bursese. Our condolences and prayers to family and friends of all limo accident victims,” the gym’s owners wrote on Monday, along with photos of the victims.
Patrick Cushing & Amanda Halse
Patrick Cushing, 31, was Erin McGowan’s cousin and a friend of the other victims, according to family members. He was an Amsterdam, New York, native. His 26-year-old girlfriend, Amanda Halse, who he lived with in Troy, New York, was also killed in the crash. They had been dating for two years, according to her Facebook page.
Halse graduated from SUNY Oswego and worked at Seagroatt Riccardi, Ltd. as a floral merchandiser.
“She was such a charismatic person and she just wanted to make sure everyone was happy and I’m so grateful that she was my sister out of everyone else on this earth,” her sister, Karina Halse, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“She was just full of joy and did whatever she could to enjoy her life. Going in this limo was such a ‘her’ thing, such an Amanda thing to do. She was always trying to have a good time,” Karina Halse told The New York Post.
“I got a text from my sister at 12:55 [p.m.] on Saturday that said, ‘We’re going to the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown for a birthday party. I texted her back at a little after 2, but the message went unanswered because it was a few minutes after the wreck happened. It was Patrick’s friends. My sister Amanda was just a friendly person. She’d get along with anybody.”
Lisinicchia was originally from Ballston Spa, New York, and lived in Lake George. Police have not said what limo company Lisinicchia was working for, but according to CBS News the company that owned the limo has been named as Prestige Limousine.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for his family. His friend wrote on the page, “Saturday afternoon October 6, 2018, our dear friend Scott passed away tragically in an unfortunate limousine accident in Schoharie, NY. Words can not express the grief and sorrow that we, his family and friends are experiencing. The entire community is shocked and devastated with the news of this terrible accident and Scott’s untimely passing. We will miss him beyond measure. Scott’s family appreciates the love and support to help with his unexpected final expenses.”
Rachael Cavosie, 30, a friend of Amy Steenburg, was identified by her family as one of the victims of the crash.
“Rachael Cavosie—or “Rach,” as she will always be known by all of her cousins—was taken away from her family and friends forever as a result of a tragic limo accident in Schoharie, New York en route to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday on Saturday, October 6,” Anthony Huff wrote on a GoFundMe campaign set up to help her family.
“The purpose of this fundraiser is to support Rachael’s parents, Michael and Jeannine, and her three siblings Maeghan, Drew, and Aidan. All proceeds will be given to Rachael’s father, Michael Cavosie,” Huff added. You can make a donation here.
Cavosie graduated from Central Catholic High School in Troy, according to her Linkedin profile. She then studied at SUNY Buffalo and Hudson Valley Community College. Cavosie worked as a dental hygienist in Troy.
Amanda Rivenburg, a friend of Amy Steenburg, was also killed in the crash, according to the Albany Times Union.
Rivenburg, 29, lived in Albany and graduated from Colonie Central High School, according to her Facebook page. She then studied at SUNY Plattsburgh, where she graduated with a degree in social work. Rivenburg worked as the assistant director of the day community opportunities program at Living Resouces, an Albany organization that provides programs and services to people with disabilities. She had worked there since 2011.
“She was the sweetest. She lights up a room. She had a vibrant smile. You felt a certain friendliness from her,” her co-worker, Deneen Palmateer, told the Times Union.
According to the Times Union, Fred Erlich, the CEO of Living Resources, said in an email to staff, “She will be remembered fondly through her loving spirit, wonderful smile, thoughtful nature and her genuine commitment to her colleagues and individuals that we serve.”
Her mother, Donna Floyd Rivenburg, wrote on Facebook, “My heart is broken!! Thank you to everyone that has called, text, or messaged me. I appreciate all the kind words and prayers that everyone has sent!! RIP my baby girl. Mommy loves you until we meet again!”
Brian Hough was one of two pedestrians killed when a limo crashed into the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country store, according to SUNY Oswego, the university where Hough has worked as a visiting geology professor since 2016. Hough was survived by his wife and son. Hough’s father-in-law, James Schnurr, was also killed in the crash, his family says.
“In a short time, Brian became a major part of our campus family,” Deborah F. Stanley, SUNY Oswego president, told Syracuse.com. “He was a dedicated faculty member who inspired his students to learn and understand at a deeper level, and whose contributions were often sought by his colleagues.”
Hough, who was 46, taught oceanography, paleontology, historical geology and stratigraphy, according to his Linkedin profile. He said he specialized in “research specializing in the interactions of tectonics and climate and paleoelevation.”
James Schnurr, 71, was killed in the crash along with his son-in-law, Brian Hough. They were in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store when the limo slammed into an SUV, sending into them.
“We are absolutely devastated at the incomprehensible loss of my nephew and his father-in-law,” Hough’s aunt, Katie Kent wrote on Facebook. “My nephew was an accomplished professor, an amazing husband, and daddy. Our family is trying to make sense of this. Prayers or well wishes please for my brother and sister-in-law, and Brian’s brother, JT.”
Schnurr was originally from Floral Park, New York, and lived in Rochester. He is survived by his wife, Joan Schnurr, his children and his grandchildren.
Michael Ukaj, 34, has been identified as one of the friends killed inside the limo. Ukaj, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, was named as one of the victims by his parents on Facebook.
A fundraiser has been set up to help Ukaj’s family.
“When someone you love is suddenly stripped from your life without any warning, there are no words to describe the brokenness, the heartache, and the deep emptiness in your soul. On Saturday, October 6th, Mary and Kyle Ashton tragically lost their son Michael Ukaj from Caroga Lake N.Y. Michael lost his life in Schoharie, NY in a fatal limousine accident,” Christine Armstrong wrote on the Facebook fundraiser page.
“Their son, Michael, served his country in the United States Marine Corp, had just recently turned 34 years old, and his life was suddenly ripped away from them. Michael was a generous, caring young man, filled with energy and ambition. He will be missed deeply by all who knew him. The last thing a parent should have to think about in a tragedy such as this is how they will bury their son and how they will move forward,” Armstrong said.