Syracuse Media Group, N.Y.
SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — Twenty people were killed after a stretch limousine crashed into bystanders near a popular country store and cafe on Saturday, according to New York State Police.
State police said that the crash happened just before 2 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A.
A limo speeding down a hill crashed into bystanders at the Apple Barrel Country Store on Saturday in Schoharie, southwest of Albany.
The store is a popular spot for autumn leaf-peepers.
Authorities on Sunday didn’t release names of victims or specifics. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
At a livestreamed news conference on Sunday afternoon, New York State Police said the limousine — a 2001 Ford Excursion — failed to stop at the intersection and barreled across the roadway, striking another a parked, unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander, as well as two bystanders,.
All 18 people inside the limo and the two bystanders were killed, police said.
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, was in attendance at the news conference. He described an NTSB investigation that will take five days and be as comprehensive as possible.
“Twenty fatalities is just horrific,” Sumwalt said at the news conference. “I’ve been on the board for 12 years and this is one of the biggest losses of life that we’ve seen.”
The speed limit in the area is 50 mph, police said. It hasn’t been determined whether the driver of the limo was speeding.
Police did not identify the victims or give any more details about what might have caused the crash, saying the investigation is in its early stages and ongoing.
They would not say what company operated the limo except that it was licensed to operate in New York.
Seatbelts for limousines like the one that crashed are required for the drivers and frontseat passengers, not for any backseat passengers, police said.
Police did not say whether road conditions might have caused the crash or whether there was equipment failure. That’s all being investigated.
A hotline has been set up for families of possible victims to call. The number is 1-877-672-4911. Police would not say whether the victims were from Upstate New York or give any other details, pending autopsies and family notifications.
In a Facebook post, the cafe said it would be open today and accepting donations for local emergency services.
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