20 dead in upstate New York tragedy
Twenty people were killed when a limousine and another vehicle crashed in an upstate New York area popular with tourists during the fall foliage season, State Police said Sunday.
Eighteen of the victims were in the limousine and the other two were bystanders, the Associated Press reported, citing preliminary information from sources close to the investigation.
The wreck took place Saturday in Schoharie, a town of 3,300 people about 160 miles north of New York City. Immediately after the crash police had said only that there were “multiple fatalities.”
On Sunday, police revealed the death total but said names of the victims would not be released until family members were notified.
The National Transportation Safety Board said it was sending investigators to the site, next to the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe. The store posted condolences on Facebook and said it would be open Sunday.
Details of the wreck were unclear, and police said they would hold a news conference later Sunday. The Albany Times Union said the limo speeded down a hill and crashed into bystanders outside the store.
Liz Gallup works at the Apple Barrel and has lived in the area for almost 60 years. She said the crash, which she did not witness, occurred adjacent to the parking lot, and that the limo apparently ended up in a deep ditch along the side of the road.
The community is in shock, Gallup said. She added that she is glad the store opened, despite the massive investigation taking place outside.
“This is a wonderful, small-knit community of people who care about each other,” she said. “People are coming in, they are hugging, they are sharing. And they want to know that we are OK.”
The ensuing 911 calls drew a phalanx of first responders, including several ambulances, three fire companies and two helicopters, the Times Union said. Some of the injured were flown to Albany Medical Center Hospital.
“As you may be aware, there was a horrific accident in front of our business today,” the store’s post says. “We hope you will come and share your smiles, love, friendship and hugs with us.”
The store also asked that customers “share your change” as donations to local first responders.
“They are the heroes of our small community,” the post said.
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