Four sisters among 20 people killed in limousine crash before birthday party in upstate New York

Four sisters were among 20 people who were killed in a limousine crash in upstate New York.

All 18 people in the vehicle were killed as well as two pedestrians after the crash on Saturday afternoon in the town of Schoharie.

A group of four sisters, one of whom was celebrating her 30th birthday, were killed, along with three of their husbands and other friends and relatives.

“They were wonderful girls,” said their aunt, Barbara Douglas, on Sunday.

“They’d do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family.”

Ms Douglas said three of the sisters were with their husbands, and she identified them as Amy and Axel Steenburg, Abigail and Adam Jackson, Mary and Rob Dyson and Allison King.

The limousine ended up in a wooded area after the crash (Picture: AP)

Amy and Axel had got married over the summer and the group were out celebrating her 30th birthday.

Axel’s brother, Rich Steenburg, was also killed in the crash. Another pair of newlyweds, Erin and Shane McGowan, also died.

Adam and Abby are survived by their two children, a four-year-old son and a 16-month-old daughter.

Witnesses said the vehicle went through a junction and hit a parked car before colliding with pedestrians in a shop car park.

Authorities said it was the deadliest transport accident in the US in almost a decade.

Axel and Amy Steenburg died in the crash. The couple had just got married in the summer (Picture: Facebook)
Adam and Abigail Jackson were killed (Picture: Facebook)
Robert and Mary Dyson were killed in the crash (Picture: Facebook)

“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” she said, adding the couples had several children between them who they left at home.

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The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine was traveling southwest on Route 30 in Schoharie, about 170 miles north of New York City, when it went through a T-junction at 2pm, State Police First Deputy Superintendent Christopher Fiore said at a news conference in Latham, New York.

It went across the road and hit an unoccupied vehicle parked at the Apple Barrel Country Store, killing the limousine driver, the 17 passengers, and two people outside the vehicle.

The crash “sounded like an explosion,” said Linda Riley, of nearby Schenectady, who was on a shopping trip with her sisters.

Emergency teams at the scene of the fatal crash on Saturday (Picture: AP)
Debris at the scene of the crash which claimed the lives of 20 people (Picture: PA)
Floral tributes were left at the scene of the crash to those who died (Picture: PA)

The store manager, Jessica Kirby, told The New York Times the limo was coming down a hill at “probably over 60 mph”.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating.

“This is one of the biggest losses of life that we’ve seen in a long, long time,” NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

It is the deadliest transportation accident since February 2009, when Colgan Air Flight 3407 crashed near Buffalo, New York, killing 50 people, Mr Sumwalt said.

Victims Erin and Shane McGowan, who had recently got married (Picture: Facebook)

At the news conference, Mr Fiore did not comment on the limo’s speed, or whether the limo occupants were wearing seat belts.

Valerie Abeling confirmed her 34-year-old niece Erin Vertucci was among the victims, along with Ms Vertucci’s newlywed husband, 30-year-old Shane McGowan.

“She was a beautiful, sweet soul; he was too,” Ms Abeling said.

The couple was married in June at a “beautiful wedding” in upstate New York, Ms Abeling said. “They had everything going for them.”

Ms Vertucci, who grew up in Amsterdam, New York, was an administrative assistant at St Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam, Ms Abeling said.