Limo crash at popular tourist spot kills 20, officials say

Limo crash at popular tourist spot kills 20, officials say

October 7, 2018 – A two-vehicle collision involving a limousine has left 20 dead in upstate New York, the New York State Police said on Sunday. Federal investigators were heading to the scene.


Local reports said the limousine collided with another vehicle outside the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie, N.Y., on Saturday afternoon.

Jessica Kirby, 36, the manager of the Apple Barrel Country Store, said multiple customers in the parking lot were killed when they were hit by the limousine as it sped down the hill on Route 30.

“All fatal,” she said in a phone interview. “That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour.”

“I don’t want to describe the scene,” she added. “It’s not something I want to think about.”

Limo crash at popular tourist spot kills 20, officials say

On Sunday, remnants of the crash were still visible, including tire tracks in the ground off the road, leading to a small ravine. What appeared to be debris from the car littered the scene: mirror fragments, taillight pieces, a hairbrush.

Ms. Kirby said she did not see the people inside the limousine and she could not describe the make or model of the other vehicle involved because it was “a mess.”

Lester Andrews, 60, from Rochester, N.Y., said his two stepsons and a daughter-in-law were among three of the people killed in the crash. They were in the limousine.

The brothers, Axel Steenburg, 29, and Rich Steenburg, 34, lived upstate, he said. Axel Steenburg’s wife, Amy, also died in the crash, he said.

Axel and Amy, who live in Amsterdam, N.Y., and were married over the summer, were the ones who rented the limousine, he said.

“They rented the limo with some families and I don’t know exactly what they were doing.” Mr. Andrews said in a phone interview. “There’s just a lot of confusion, so many people died,” he said.

“Their mother is looking for some answers, he said. “She wants to know what happened to her sons.”

Mr. Andrews said on Saturday night that he went to Axel’s house to take care of his bull mastiff.

“When we went to pick up the dog, all the people that they were with had all their cars parked in front of their house,” Mr. Andrews said.

Investigators, he said, were trying to match the license plates with the victims in the limousine.

Alan Tavenner, the town supervisor of Schoharie, called the death toll “completely mind-boggling” in a town of 3,000.

The New York State Police and the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Office responded to the accident, which occurred just before 2 p.m. on Saturday at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A, according to the police.

Limo crash at popular tourist spot kills 20, officials say

Mr. Tavenner said the site of the accident was a notoriously dangerous spot, a “nasty intersection” that transportation officials had tried to fix in the past without success. “I honestly think it was a more dangerous intersection than it was before,” he said.

Route 30 leads steeply downhill to a T-intersection with Route 30A, marked with a stop sign.

Ms. Kirby also said the intersection was dangerous. “We’ve had three tractor-trailer type vehicles — they come down that hill too fast, they go though our parking lot and they end up in a field behind our business,” she said.

The State Police said in a statement that “the names of the victims are not being released at this time as next of kin are being notified.”

A spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said a team would be on the ground Sunday afternoon.

Limo crash at popular tourist spot kills 20, officials say

Ms. Kirby said that Columbus Day weekend is the busiest weekend of the year for the store, and that it was packed. Most of her customers had arrived from New York City, New Jersey or Albany, she said.

“A lot of people from New York City come up and they do the country things, the apple picking and the sort,” she said.

Ms. Kirby said she was inside the store when she heard the loud bang. She rushed out and immediately called 911.

“We’ve heard accidents before,” she said. “You know that sound when it happens.”

Mary Greeley News