20 dead after crash involving wedding limo in NY

20 killed after limousine crashes in upstate New York, authorities...

A weekend crash in upstate NY that killed 20 people, including 18 in a limousine headed to a birthday party, was the deadliest transportation-related accident in almost a decade, authorities said.

- Relatives of the limousine driver involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate NY said Tuesday they believe he was unwittingly assigned an unsafe vehicle.

The vehicle was reportedly owned by Prestige Limousine and Cuomo said the Excursion's driver didn't have a commercial driver's license with a passenger endorsement.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said a team of investigators was on the scene on Sunday, looking into what the Albany Times-Union said was the deadliest crash in the region since 2005. Everyone inside the limousine, including the driver, died in the crash, and all those killed Saturday were adults, police added.

On top of that, the driver "did not have the appropriate driver's license to be operating that vehicle", Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.

US Department of Transportation records shows that the limo company, Prestige Limousine Chauffeur Service of Gansevoort, New York, has two drivers and three vehicles.

Customers in the parking lot were killed when they were hit by the limo coming down a hill on state Route 30 at "probably over 60 miles per hour", the store manager, Jessica Kirby, told The New York Times. The vehicle was supposed to be taking the group to Ommegang Brewery to celebrate the 30th birthday of a woman named Amy Steenburg.

The New York grand jury report recommended state lawmakers require stretch limousines that seat nine or more passengers to meet the stricter inspection regulations that apply to buses.

"We continue to be stunned by the widespread local impact of Saturday's heartbreaking limo accident.", said Kara Ulasewicz, hospice president and CEO. Steenburg's husband Axel Steenburg also was killed. "I join all New Yorkers in mourning these deaths and share in the unspeakable sorrow experienced by their families and loved ones during this extremely hard time". Some seats had lap-shoulder belts, but it wasn't immediately clear if all the seats were equipped with seat belts and whether anyone had them on, Sumwalt said.

Among the dead are four sisters, three of whom were with their husbands, according to the siblings' aunt, Barbara Douglas.

After speeding through the intersection at an estimated 60mph on Saturday, the limousine crashed into an unoccupied vehicle in the auto park of the Apple Barrel Country Store and struck two people.

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"They were fun-loving. They were wonderful girls", Douglas said.

Mary Dyson died in Saturday's crash along with her husband, Rob. "They had their whole lives ahead of them", she said, according to the news organization.

A ceremony for the victims of the limousine crash that killed 20 people has ended with participants lifting candles above their heads to signal unity and perseverance.

"This is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time", he said.

All 20 people killed in the crash are being memorialized at a vigil Monday, including passengers Amanda Rivenburg, Rachael Cavosie, and Savannah Bursese.

Axel's 34-year-old brother was also killed in the crash.

The couple got married on June 30.

Since limos are essentially stretched versions of normal passenger vehicles, it means occupants aren't necessarily seated near a pillar which offers increased protection in the event of a crash.

Hussain was charged in 2002 with helping people illegally obtain driver's licences and eventually became an informant against his co-conspirators in the licence scheme.

"What they're here to do at this point is collect the perishable information the information that can go away with the passage of time", he said.

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