News

20 killed when limousine carrying upstate birthday party crashes

Four sisters and three of their husbands — including a newlywed couple — were among 20 lives snuffed out in a moment of horror when an out-of-control limo roared through a notoriously dangerous upstate highway junction.

The crash — which claimed the life of another newlywed couple — was the deadliest U.S. transportation disaster in nearly a decade.

The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine barreled down a hill on State Route 30 in a rural part of Schoharie, and blew past a stop sign where Route 30 joins Route 30A.

It then ripped through the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe, where it slammed into an empty, parked 2015 Toyota Highlander before rolling into a shallow ravine.

All 18 people inside the limo along with two people in the parking lot were killed in the 2 p.m. Saturday crash, authorities said.

“I saw the limo in the ravine, which was 20 to 30 feet deep,” witness Steve White told the Daily News.

Bystanders tried to rescue the limo’s passengers. “I saw one person that was down by the limo and a few others trying to climb down,” White said.

“It’s just horrific,” said National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt. “I’ve been on board for 12 years and this is one of the biggest losses of lives we’ve seen in a long, long time.”

NTSB investigators were on scene Sunday. The crash was the deadliest U.S. transportation disaster since 50 people died in another upstate tragedy, the February 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo.

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