20 Killed in 'Horrific' Limousine Crash Involving Birthday Party in Upstate New York: Reports
Twenty people were killed as a result of a limousine crash that occurred in Schoharie, New York, on Saturday, PEOPLE can confirm.
The deadly crash, which involved two vehicles, occurred at approximately 1:55 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, according to the New York State Police. Their preliminary investigation revealed that the crash occurred at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A.
On Sunday afternoon, the New York State Police held a press conference where they confirmed that “18 of the victims were in the limousine, including the driver,” and that “two pedestrians standing nearby were also struck and killed.” All of the victims were adults.
All of the limousine passengers were killed in the crash, authorities stated later in the conference.
Though police said they were in the early stages of an investigation, authorities determined that the incident occurred after the limousine, a 2011 Ford Excursion, “failed to stop at the intersection of State Route 30A.” The limousine then “traveled across the intersection into a parking lot and struck a 2015 Toyota Highlander that was unoccupied and parked.”
During the incident, which occurred in front of local store Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe, the limousine fell into a ravine, according to the Daily Gazette.
Local reports claimed a wedding party was inside the limousine at the time of the crash, according to the New York Times, but the aunt of one of the limo victims told the Associated Press that the vehicle was en route to a birthday celebration.
“Our lives have been changed forever,” said Valerie Abeling, whose daughter was invited but unable to attend the party.
Abeling told the AP that two of the victims were newlyweds Erin Vertucci, 34, and Shane McGowan, 30.
While the New York State Police told PEOPLE that they will not be releasing any information about the victims until all of the families have been notified, NewsChannel 13 reported that several pedestrians were hit during the crash while trying to seek shelter in the Apple Barrel County Store and Cafe.
While portions of the two roads were closed following the crash, they were reopened around 4 a.m. on Sunday, after the scene of the crash had been cleared, the New York State Police told News 10.
“This is a two-vehicle, multi-fatality investigation,” State Police Capt. Richard O’Brien told NewsChannel 13. “It’s very preliminary. In its infancy stages. We have several units investigating.”
The National Transportation Safety Board also announced that they were launching their “go-team” to assist in the investigation.
In an emotional Facebook post on Saturday, the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe addressed the “horrific accident.”
“As you may be aware, there was a horrific accident in front of our business today. First, we want to thank all of the emergency services that responded. We are so thankful for all of you,” the store wrote, adding that they “will be open for business” on Sunday.
RELATED VIDEO: Friends Missing After Deadly Colorado River Boat Crash During Labor Day Getaway: It’s a ‘Nightmare’
Encouraging patrons to come by on Sunday, the store wrote, “we hope you will come and share your smiles, love, friendship and hugs with us.”
“We also hope you will share your change. We will be collecting donations for our local volunteer emergency services. They are the heroes of our small community,” the store added. “Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected by the events of today. You will always be part of our family.”