Upstate New York roads where limo crash killed 20 are a menace, store says

The intersection had been redone in 2008 because of a fatal accident

The site of a devastating accident that killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of a limousine headed to a birthday party, including four sisters, is a known danger spot that has long worried locals, according to a manager of the store that sits at the intersection where the accident happened.

The intersection had been redone in 2008 because of a fatal accident there, said Jessica Kirby, managing director of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe, which is an institution in Schoharie and among the legions of leaf-peepers who take to the roads of upstate New York each autumn.

Since the reconstruction, three tractor-trailers have run through the same stop sign authorities said the limo blew and into a field behind her business, she said. Officials worked with the state to outlaw heavy trucks, she said, but there are still accidents.

And now this.

“More accidents than I can count,” she said in an email. “We have been asking for something to be done for years.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement Sunday saying he has “directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy.”

Autopsies were being performed; authorities didn’t say whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts or give the speed of the limo.

Relatives said the limousine was carrying four sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.

“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” their aunt, Barbara Douglas, said Sunday. She did not want to name them publicly but added: “They were wonderful girls. They’d do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family.”

Valerie Abeling, the aunt of victim Erin Vertucci, said her 34-year-old niece and her niece’s new husband, 30-year-old Shane McGowan, were victims.

“She was a beautiful, sweet soul; he was, too, they were very sweet,” Abeling said. “They were two very young, beautiful people” who “had everything going for them.”

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was travelling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 170 miles (270 kilometres) north of New York City when it failed to stop at a T-junction with state Route 30A, state police said. It went across the road and hit an unoccupied SUV parked at the Apple Barrel Country Store and two pedestrians.

The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas 2005, killing 23.

And it is the deadliest transportation accident overall since February 2009, when a plane crash near Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people, said Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating.

The Apple Barrel’s Facebook page on Sunday reflected the concern around the accident in the tight-knit community.

“Yes, are open today. And could use your hugs,” it read. “We are doing our best to cope and grieve. We are a big family at the Apple Barrel, and part of the bigger family of Schoharie. We cope by being together. And that is why we are open.”

There were just 12 crashes involving large limos in the five years for which the agency has released statistics, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Twelve people were killed in limo crashes in that span, 2012 through 2016. Over the same period, 171,508 people were killed in 157,451 crashes involving all types of vehicles.

There was no information Sunday on the limousine, its origin or its integrity. But safety issues on such vehicles have arisen before, notably after a wreck on Long Island in July 2015 in which four women were killed.

They were in a Lincoln Town Car that had been cut apart and rebuilt in a stretch configuration to accommodate more passengers. The limousine was trying to make a U-turn and was struck by a pickup.

A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don’t have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits. That grand jury called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assemble a task force on limousine safety.

Limousines built in factories are already required to meet stringent safety regulations, but when cars are converted into limos, safety features are sometimes removed, leading to gaps in safety protocols, the grand jury wrote.

___

Salsberg reported from Boston. Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Michael Balsamo, Michael R. Sisak, Deepti Hajela and Verena Dobnik in New York; and John Kekis in Latham, New York.

Michael Hill And Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pre-registration required for the drive-in 2020 flu immunization clinics at Chilliwack Heritage Park on Nov. 3 and 4, and Nov. 9 and 10. (Chilliwack Division of Family Practice)
First ever drive-in flu shot clinics coming to Chilliwack next week

Roll up your sleeve, drive inside the barn at Heritage Park, and park for a few minutes to get shot

B.C. taxpayers could be on the hook for upwards of $27 million in total payouts for MLA pensions. (file)
Pensions are adding up for defeated, retiring MLAs: Taxpayers’ group

Martin and Throness would get $28,000 per year, lifetime pensions estimated ~$700K

Halloween enhanced image of a pumpkin patch to get you going. (Ryan Dyck Photography)
Halloween displays around Chilliwack are always a treat

Here is a list of addresses where some of the more creative Halloween displays can be viewed

Google Maps screenshot taken at 7:56 a.m., Oct. 29.
TRAFFIC: Westbound Highway 1 crash between Chilliwack and Abbotsford

Left lane is blocked, traffic backed up to No. 3 Road

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

Most Read