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New York limo crash: Newlyweds and young couples among 20 dead

  • 8 October 2018

Amy and Axel SteenburgImage copyright Family handout
Image caption Amy and Axel Steenburg were married in June

Two newlywed couples are among 20 people who died in a limousine crash which officials are calling the worst US transport accident since 2009.

Amy and Axel Steenburg wed in June and were celebrating Amy’s birthday when their driver lost control of the vehicle in upstate New York.

Erin and Shane McGowan – who also married in June – died, too, in Saturday’s collision, say relatives.

Four of the dead were sisters ranging in age from 30 to 35, their family say.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption From left: Allison King, Abby Jackson, Mary Dyson and Amy Steenburg

“They were beautiful girls, full of life. They had their whole lives ahead of them,” said aunt Barbara Douglas.

“One just got married and that’s what this was: her new husband was giving her a surprise birthday party,” she told the New York Post.

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Media captionThe cause of the crash is unclear

Tom King, 35, said his four sisters who died – Abigail Jackson, Mary Dyson, Allison King and Amy Steenburg – “were very tight”.

“They were the Four Musketeers,” he said, outside their parents home in Amsterdam, New York.

How did the crash occur?

Officials are investigating the crash, which occurred near the town of Schoharie in New York state on Saturday afternoon.

According to witnesses, the white SUV-style limo failed to halt at a stop sign, and was travelling at around 60mph (95km/h) when it flew through an intersection, hit an empty car outside the Apple Barrel Country Store & Cafe, and then hurtled across a drainage ditch.

All 18 people on board, as well as two pedestrians, were killed outside the restaurant, which is popular among tourists who come to see the trees change colour in the autumn.

Officials say it is the deadliest crash since the 2009 crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, which claimed 50 lives.

One victim’s relative said the hired limo was a replacement for “some kind of bus” that was supposed to take the group on a tour of wineries and breweries for Amy’s 30th birthday party.

The family member told the Washington Post one of the victims sent a text before the crash, saying the limo “appeared in terrible condition”.

Image copyright Facebook/ Erin McGowan
Image caption Erin and Shane McGowan married last June

‘I love you more than words can say!’

In Mrs Steenburg’s last ever Facebook post, dated on 3 October, she thanked her husband for “being so kind and loving”.

“I just wanted to say Axel Steenburg I love you more than words can say!” read the post.

Axel’s brother, Rich Steenburg, was also killed in the crash. According to an online fundraiser to cover his funeral expenses, he has one young daughter.

Image copyright Facebook/ Erin McGowan
Image caption Erin and Shane McGowan

Other victims include Robert and Mary Dyson, who were married in 2009 and have one son together.

Valerie Abeling told CNN that her niece, Erin McGowan was close friends with the Steenburgs.

“My family is just going through a lot,” Mrs Abeling said. “It’s a horrible tragedy and there’s no words to describe how we feel.”

BBC News – US & Canada

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