20 killed when limousine carrying Schoharie, N.Y. birthday party crashes

20 killed when limousine carrying upstate birthday party crashes
In this Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 photo, emergency personnel respond to the scene of a deadly crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (WTEN via AP)

Twenty people were killed when a limousine carrying a birthday party crashed into a car and bystanders outside an upstate Apple Barrel Country Store, according to New York State Police.

The limo barreled down a hill between state routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday. Names of the victims are being withheld pending family notification.

Eighteen of the victims were inside the limo and two were outside, according to the Associated Press.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are probing the fatal crash.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected by the events,” the Apple Barrel store said on Facebook.State Police have scheduled a 3 p.m. press conference.

A local official said the road has long been a hazard despite improvements made by state Department of Transportation officials seven years ago.

“There have been tractor trailers that have come barreling down that hill and it was a miracle they didn’t kill somebody,” Schoharie Town Supervisor Alan Tavenner told the Albany Times Union.

He’s not the only local to complain about the road.

“When they changed the road it was a bad choice,” wrote Barb Bender on the Schoharie Co. Fire Wire Facebook page. “If I was the apple barrel owners I would be demanding some sort of barriers to protect my business and customers.”

First responders were shaken up by the carnage at the scene.

“All the men and women (mostly volunteers) I know and saw yesterday…were deeply affected by this,” Hope Harvey posted on the Schoharie Co. Fire Wire Facebook page.

The restaurant is a popular tourist spot during fall foliage season. The parking lot was crowded with people and vehicles at the time of the crash, according to local reports.

Schoharie County is about 48 miles away from Albany, the capital of New York State.

Earlier reports indicated the victims in the limo were tied to a wedding party were incorrect. But authorities are still trying to figure out if some of the victims were on their way to a wedding gathering.

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