Hundreds attend vigil for limousine crash victims


A candlelit vigil has taken place for the 20 people killed in a limousine crash in New York state.

Participants lifted candles above their heads as more than 1,000 people jammed a riverside park in Amsterdam.

Relatives have tried to come to grips with the tragedy that happened as a group of friends and family were on their way to a 30th birthday party.

The super-sized limo ran through a stop sign and hit a parked SUV on Saturday in Schoharie.

Authorities have yet to say how fast the limo was going or determine why it failed to stop and sped off the road at the bottom of a long hill – a known danger spot for traffic.

The 19-seat vehicle had at least some seat belts, but it was unclear whether anyone was wearing them, US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

Barbara Douglas
Barbara Douglas lost four family members in the tragedy in New York state (AP)

Some relatives of the dead shed tears as local officials expressed solidarity with them.

US representative Paul Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam, told a crowd that spilled onto a bridge spanning the Mohawk River: “We are crushed with you, we are crushed for you.”

A vigil for the dead
Hundreds of people took part in the ceremony in Amsterdam (AP)

The crash killed two pedestrians and all 18 people in the vehicle, run by Prestige Limousine, including four sisters who were headed with friends and relatives to a brewery for a party for one of the sisters.

The four sisters’ aunt, Barbara Douglas, said they had felt “they did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere”.

“My heart is sunken. It’s in a place where I’ve never felt this type of pain before,” said Karina Halse, who lost her 26-year-old sister Amanda.

The scene of the crash
Inquiries are ongoing into the crash (AP)

Investigators plan to examine the mangled limo’s data recorders and mechanical systems as well as the road, which has a history as a danger spot.

They are also looking into the driver’s record and qualifications and conducting an examination to see if drugs or alcohol were factors.

Officials have determined that the driver did not have the necessary commercial licence, and the vehicle failed a state inspection that examined such things as the chassis, suspension and brakes.

The scene of a limousine Crash
Debris scattered in the crash site in Schoharie (AP)

Prestige Limousine issued a statement Monday expressing condolences to victims’ families and saying it was conducting “a detailed internal investigation” while also meeting with state and federal authorities.

After a stretch limousine was involved in an accident on New York’s Long Island in 2015, killing four women, a special grand jury implored Mr Cuomo to examine the safety of such vehicles.


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