As a new work week begins for most – friends, family, state police, and the NTSB are trying to understand what led to a deadly accident on Saturday around 2 pm.
The devastating wreck unfolded at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A. In a community of just 3,000 – Schoharie, which is located about 40 miles southwest of Albany – saw one of the deadliest accidents in nearly a decade.
Police say a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was driving southwest on Route 30 when it failed to stop at a ‘T’ intersection. It traveled across the road, into a parking lot, and hit an unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander. In addition to killing all occupants of the limo – two pedestrians were struck- and killed as well.
— Jesse McKinley (@jessemckinley) October 8, 2018
NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said they would not determine the cause of the crash on-scene, nor will they speculate on a cause prior to a complete investigation. A timeline on that investigation was not discussed.
Reports out of Schoharie indicate that the vehicle was ‘barely roadworthy’. That according to the individuals inside the vehicle, who had sent text messages – noting that it was a last-minute replacement to another vehicle owned by a company called Prestige Limousine.
The driver has been identified as Scott Lisinicchia, 53, who was killed along with the group of 17 friends and family who were on their way to a surprise 30th birthday party.
Among the dead were four sisters – identified by family members as Allison King, Abby Jackson, Mary Dyson, and Amy Steenburg, whose birthday they were celebrating. Several GoFundMe’s had been setup for the victims as of Monday afternoon.
The vehicle had been brought in as a replacement after a bus meant to transport the party broke down.
NBC reports that four vehicles have been taken out of circulation by the company in the last two years due to inspection failures. The Washington Post reports that passenger Erin McGowan – who died alongside new husband Shane – texted aunt Valerie Abeling to say the limo was ‘in terrible condition’.
Abeling said the group had rented ‘some kind of bus’ to take them to the party venue, but it had broken down. The same company then sent a limo to take the group the rest of the way.
On Monday afternoon, Gov. Cuomo said the driver didn’t have proper licensing to operate the vehicle; and that the limo had failed an inspection last month. The Governor also noted that the company’s ability to operate had been suspended, pending a complete and thorough investigation into the accident.
According to Seneca Falls Central School District Superintendent Robert McKeveny – one of the deceased was a Mynderse Academy graduate. In a post to Twitter, he noted that the entire SFCD community was grieving.
So very sad. Prayers for families, including family of @SenecaFallsCSD & Mynderse Academy graduate.
— Bob McKeveny (@bmckeveny) October 8, 2018
What is the NTSB investigating?
They are looking at everything from road conditions, the location of the accident, mechanical factors – including the vehicle, as well as the operator.
Schoharie Town Supervisor Alan Tavenner said the DOT had executed a significant realignment of the intersection around 10 years ago. “We’ve had a lot of problems with trucks on it ever since – and a few years ago the DOT banned tractor-trailers from using that section of the road,” the supervisor explained.
Identities of those involved in the fatal wreck have not been released by authorities – but family members have taken to social networks and local media to share their stories. The New York Post reported that the day was intended to be a 30th birthday celebration. In the accident, four sisters – and two of their husbands lives were lost. Family members of the victims were stretched out across Upstate New York – with some relatives living in Rochester, Seneca Falls, and other communities.
A 2015 report by the New York Times looked at the safety concerns around stretch limousines. In particular, it looked at seatbelt regulations, which are lacking – as well as the way these vehicles are constructed. Experts note that limos are effectively regular vehicles, which are cut in half – and held together with extended plating.
By not extending the frame of the vehicle, or adding any rollover protection – the vehicle is particularly dangerous.
Governor Andrew Cuomo, as well as other state, and federal officials have released statements following the devastating accident.
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
My heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in the horrific accident on Saturday in Schoharie. I have directed State agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in the investigation, and I join all New Yorkers in mourning during this extremely difficult time.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) October 7, 2018
More from Schoharie
Back in Schoharie at the scene of what is the deadliest transportation accident in this country since 2009. 20 people lost their lives. @SPECNewsAlbany will have updates throughout the morning. pic.twitter.com/F6CdTHxjcA
— Evan Sery (@evanserytv) October 8, 2018
— Evan Sery (@evanserytv) October 7, 2018
Lauren Lemos, who said she is a cousin of four of the victims of the #Schoharie limousine crash that killed 20 people Saturday, reflects on the loved ones she and her family lost. pic.twitter.com/ChvWmXvJyp
— Spectrum News Albany (@SPECNewsAlbany) October 7, 2018
— Marisa Jacques (@MarisaJacquesTV) October 7, 2018