The National Transportation Safety Board said on Sunday that the crash was the "deadliest transportation-related accident" in the USA since 2009, when a plane crash in Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people.
The tragedy in upstate NY is America's worst transportation crash in nearly a decade, according to federal authorities.
"They were the Four Musketeers", he said, outside their parents home in Amsterdam, New York. "They had their whole lives ahead of them", said aunt Barbara Douglas. "They'd do anything for you and they were very close to each other and they loved their family".
Excited about a birthday celebration and wanting to do the right thing by not driving, 17 friends piled into a white stretch limousine for what was supposed to have been a fun party at a brewery in upstate NY.
Police said they are still investigating the cause of the crash and did not comment on the speed of the limousine.
The modified limo that crashed and killed 20 people wasn't even supposed to be on the road, New York's governor said Monday. That friend and her three sisters and their spouses were all killed, Abeling said. She had been in another auto parked at the store, saw a body on the ground and heard people start screaming.
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 [100kmh]", the store manager, Jessica Kirby, told The New York Times.
Karina Halse told The Associated Press that her sister, a waitress, had texted her just before getting into the limo. "All of these occurred during business hours and could've killed someone then".
Prestige Limousine expressed condolences to relatives of Saturday's crash in Schoharie (skoh-HAYR'-ee).
These kinds of altered vehicles have anxious officials, said Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board.
The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board called the crash "horrific" and told reporters, "This is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time".
It was the deadliest transportation accident in the U.S. since a 2009 plane crash in Buffalo, New York, that killed 49 people, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt told a news conference on Sunday.
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The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the USA since a bus full of Texas nursing home patients fleeing 2005′s Hurricane Rita caught fire, killing 23.
"I can tell you that wearing seat belts does save lives". "We know that the vehicle ran a stop sign and had a tragic result". Autopsies were being conducted.
Image: Erin McGowan sent a text moments before she died.
"My family is just going through a lot", Abeling said.
Cushing worked in the New York State Senate's Technology Service unit and played for the US Dodgeball team, which described him on Facebook as an wonderful friend and "one of the most agile and dominant players in the world".
New York actually has some of the most stringent regulations in the country when it comes to vehicles carrying 10 or more passengers, according to Kevin Barwall, president of the Limousine, Bus and Taxi Operators of Upstate New York.
The vehicle was an after-market stretch limousine, according to an official briefed on the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.
He declined to discuss the limo's origin and destination. Abigail was among the four sisters killed. "Was he trying to make up time?"
A grand jury found that vehicles converted into stretch limousines often don't have safety measures including side-impact air bags, reinforced rollover protection bars and accessible emergency exits.
The NTSB, the New York State Police and the New York State Department of Transportation are all investigating the crash.
Questions have been raised before about safety issues with stretch limousine vehicles. Lengthening the vehicles and adding new seating configurations can undercut the federally mandated safety features designed by the original manufacturer, according to crash-worthiness experts. They accounted for only one death crash out of 34,439 fatal accidents in 2016, the past year for which data is available.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the first responders who "worked through the night to help". "I have directed state agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy".