Families headed to birthday party die in NY crash

Emergency vehicles at the scene of the two-vehicle collision that left 20 people dead in upstate New York last Saturday.
Emergency vehicles at the scene of the two-vehicle collision that left 20 people dead in upstate New York last Saturday.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK • Two pairs of newly-weds, four sisters from one family and two brothers from another were among the 20 victims when a limousine taking passengers to a surprise birthday party crashed in upstate New York, according to media reports yesterday.

The federal authorities described last Saturday's accident as the deadliest US transport crash in nearly a decade.

Officials had not released the victims' names as of early yesterday, but some of the names and details were disclosed by media accounts from relatives and Go Fund Me pages on the Internet.

Mr Shane McGowan and his wife Erin were just starting a life together after five months of marriage, the Times Union of Rochester, New York, reported.

The McGowans were part of a party of 17 young adults who climbed into a 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limousine to celebrate their friend Amy Steenburg's 30th birthday, the paper and other media reported.

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

The limo charged through a highway intersection without stopping on Saturday afternoon in Schoharie, New York, about 65km west of Albany, said the police and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

It crashed into an unoccupied parked car and hit two pedestrians before coming to a stop in a shallow ravine, officials said.

The limo driver, all 17 passengers and the two pedestrians died, state police and the NTSB said.

Ms Steenburg was also a newly-wed. She and her three sisters - Ms Mary Dyson, Ms Allison King and Ms Abby Jackson - and her husband, Mr Axel Steenburg, and his brother, Mr Rich Steenburg, all died, relatives told The New York Times.

Ms Barbara Douglas, the aunt of the sisters, said the victims were smart, beautiful and lived life to the fullest. "I don't know how you say it. You can't wrap your head around such a tragedy where you have four of your daughters die," she told reporters at the scene.

NBC news reported that Ms Mary Dyson's husband, Rob, also died.

It was the deadliest transportation accident in the US since a 2009 plane crash in Buffalo, New York, that killed 49 people, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt told a news conference on Sunday.

State police are probing the cause of the crash.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2018, with the headline 'Families headed to birthday party die in NY crash'. Subscribe