The limousine that crashed and killed 20 people in a horrific accident Saturday was on a “dangerous road” at the time of the accident, local residents say.
Eighteen people, including a newlywed couple and four sisters, were inside the 2001 Ford Excursion limo when it crashed into an SUV in a parking lot after driving through an intersection without stopping, according to CNN. Everyone in the vehicle died, police say, and two others standing near the SUV outside of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe in Schoharie, New York, were hit and killed.
Jessica Kirby, the store’s managing director, said that the Apple Barrel store sits at the bottom of a hill — and that the intersection above has proven to be a “reoccurring issue,” according to The Albany Times Union. Police believe the limo driver was heading down Route 30 when he failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection and barreled into the parking lot below, the outlet wrote.
KKTV11 explained that the stretch of road on Route 30 that the limo was on “is notoriously dangerous.”
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“Route 30 heading towards the intersection is long, windy and is a fairly steep downhill,” the newspaper reported.
The road has a speed limit of 50 mph, according to The Albany Times Union, but drivers can only see the stop sign 200 feet before the intersection.
Schoharie supervisor Alan Tavenner told NBC News that big trucks had recently been banned from the “dangerous” road to help prevent a tragedy just like this. He said that those who know the road can likely understand how such a crash can happen.
“I can see how it would be be easy to not realize you’re coming to a stop there if you don’t know the area,” he told NBC. “If somebody comes down and doesn’t hit their brake or is going too fast, they’re at a loss, the alignment of it is kind of tough.”
According to The Albany Times Union, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the driver didn’t have a license to drive the limo, which failed a safety inspection last month.
The Associated Press reported that the limo was heading to a birthday party when it crashed and killed four sisters, whose identities have not yet been released to the press, said aunt Barbara Douglas.
Also inside were newlyweds Erin Vertucci and Shane McGowan. Vertucci’s aunt Valerie Abeling called her a “beautiful, sweet soul,” according to NBC News.
“He was, too,” she said, according to NBC News. “They were very sweet. They were two very young, beautiful people (who) had everything going for them.”