A limo crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York Saturday occurred at an intersection that has seen a number of harrowing traffic accidents over the years, locals told reporters.
All 18 people aboard the limousine were killed in the crash, including the driver, as well as two people who were standing in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store in Schoharie, New York, about 170 miles north of New York City.
The crash occurred at a bustling time of the year when the area receives thousands of visitors who make their way to the area to see autumn foliage. The Oct. 6 limo crash is one of the deadliest traffic crashes in U.S. history and the deadliest transportation accident to occur since a 2009 airplane crash in Buffalo New York killed 50 people.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on the scene investigating the limo crash, which occurred at a T-bone intersection between Route 30 and Route 30A. Authorities said the limo careened down Route 30 and then for unknown reasons blew through the stop sign at the 30A intersection. The limo crossed the street and crashed into an SUV that was parked in the Apple Barrel lot before coming to a stop in a ditch.
Family members of some of the limo crash victims told the Associated Press that the 17 people in the limo were on their way to a birthday celebration at a brewery in nearby Cooperstown. The victims included at least one newlywed couple and parents of young children. Most of the victims were in their 20s and 30s.
According to the AP, the aunt of Erin McGowan, 34, who along with her husband Shane, 30, was among the victims, sent a text message complaining that the limo was in “terrible condition.” The limo had been provided as a last-minute replacement after a bus they chartered to shuttle the group broke down.
“They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” Barbara Douglas, a relative of four sisters who died in the limo crash told the press, according to the AP.
The manager of the store where the limo crash occurred told the AP that the intersection has been plagued by traffic accidents for years.
“We have had 3 tractor-trailer type trucks run through the stop through our driveway and into a field behind the business,” manager Jessica Kirby said, according to the AP, adding that all of the tractor-trailer crashes occurred during business hours.
“Kirby says the local town supervisor worked with New York’s Department of Transportation to bar heavy trucks from using the road. But she says smaller vehicles still have routinely crashed at that spot,” the AP reported.