Crash limo 'had failed safety test', claims NY governor
The super-sized limousine involved in a crash which killed 20 people in upstate New York had recently failed a safety inspection and shouldn't have been on the road, nor was the driver properly licensed, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.
The state ordered the owner, Prestige Limousine, shut down while an investigation continues into what caused Saturday's crash in Schoharie.
"In my opinion, the owner of this company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road," the governor said.
The limousine carrying four sisters, other relatives and friends to a birthday celebration went through a stop sign and slammed into a parked SUV, killing all 18 people in the limo and two pedestrians.
Relatives said the limousine was carrying the sisters and their friends to a 30th birthday celebration for the youngest.
"They were wonderful girls," said their aunt, Barbara Douglas. "They'd do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family."
Ms Douglas said three of the sisters were with their husbands, and she identified them as Amy and Axel Steenburg, Abigail and Adam Jackson, Mary and Rob Dyson and Allison King.
"They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn't have to drive anywhere," she said, adding the couples had several children between them who were left at home.
The crash "sounded like an explosion", said Linda Riley, of nearby Schenectady, who was on a shopping trip. She had been in a car parked outside a store, saw a body on the ground and heard people start screaming.
Store manager Jessica Kirby, told 'The New York Times' the limo was coming down a hill at "probably over 60mph (95kmh)". She complained the junction where the crashed occurred is accident-prone. "We have had three tractor-trailer-type trucks run through the stop, through our driveway and into a field behind the business," she said.