As authorities continue to investigate a devastating limo crash that killed nearly two dozen people in upstate New York on Saturday, family members of several of the victims are speaking out about what the National Transportation Safety Board labeled the “most deadly transportation accident” in the U.S. since 2009.
In an interview with NBC News, Barbara Douglas — the aunt of sisters Amy Steenburg, Abigail Jackson, Mary Dyson and Allison King, who were killed along with three of their husbands, Axel Steenburg, Adam Jackson and Rob Dyson — said the family believed they were erring on the side of safety by hiring a chauffeur to celebrate Amy’s 30th birthday.
“They did the responsible thing, getting a limo so they wouldn’t be driving,” Douglas told the news outlet.
Amy and her newlywed husband, Axel, had just married in June in Saratoga, New York, according to their page on The Knot.
On Saturday afternoon, the limo the couple and their guests were traveling in failed to stop at a T-intersection and flew into a nearby parking lot, where it crashed into an unoccupied SUV. The limo ultimately fell into a ravine, according to the Daily Gazette.
“That limo was coming down that hill probably over 60 miles per hour,” Jessica Kirby, the manager of an Apple Barrel Country Store near the scene of the crash, told the New York Times.
The parked SUV then struck two people who were on foot. In all, 20 people — including everyone in the limo and the two pedestrians — were killed, the New York State Police said in a press conference.
Douglas said her brother, the father of the four sisters who lost their lives in the crash, is distraught.
“My brother and his wife are just overwrought,” she said of her brother.
“I don’t know how to say it. Can’t wrap your head around such a tragedy where you have four of your daughters die.”
Among the dead are Abby and Adam Jackson, who left behind two daughters, Archer, 4, and 16-month-old Ellie. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family in the aftermath of the crash.
“Adam and Abby were amazing parents to these girls and taken much too soon,” a family friend wrote in a GoFundMe page set up for the couple’s children. “While families will step in and provide loving care for these girls, there will be expenses that we can help with during this time when we otherwise feel so helpless.”
Another GoFundMe has been set up to raise money for Axel and Rich Steenburg.
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“Rich, Axel and other friends and family passed in an unfortunate party bus accident,” the friend wrote on the page. “It is beyond devastating for everyone who knew them all.”
The crash is the deadliest transportation accident since 50 people lost their lives during the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 in Buffalo, the NTSB reports.
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