The Latest: Over 1,000 honor limo crash victims at vigil

LATHAM, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest on a limousine crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Over 1,000 people have jammed a riverside park to honor the victims of a limo crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York.

Some relatives of the dead shed tears as local officials expressed solidarity with them at Monday’s vigil in Amsterdam, New York. Some victims lived in the small city.

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko told the families, in his words, “We are crushed with you, we are crushed for you.” He’s a Democrat from Amsterdam.

The ceremony ended with participants lifting candles above their heads to signal unity and perseverance.

The 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV on Saturday in Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee). Two pedestrians and all 18 people in the limo died. The passengers were headed to a 30th birthday party.

7 p.m.

The New York company that owns a supersized limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people says it has taken its cars off the road while probing what caused the wreck.

The New York Times says Prestige Limousine issued a statement Monday saying it’s conducting “a detailed internal investigation.” The Gansevoort, New York-based company says it also has met with state and federal authorities and plans to do so again.

Prestige Limousine expressed condolences to relatives of Saturday’s crash in Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee).

The firm says it pulled its cars from the road voluntarily. State police say they seized four Prestige cars, including the one that crashed.

The 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV. Two pedestrians and all 18 people in the limo died.

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5:30 p.m.

The National Transportation Safety Board says there were no apparent skid marks before a limousine barreled through an intersection and crashed into a parked car, killing 20 people.

But Chairman Robert Sumwalt cautioned during a news conference Monday that the lack of skid marks could be due to misty weather or anti-lock brakes.

Sumwalt says that the stretch limousine had at least some seatbelts, but that it was unclear whether any of the passengers were wearing them.

Investigators plan to examine everything from the mangled limo’s data recorders and mechanical systems to the road, which has a history as a danger spot.

Saturday’s crash killed 18 people inside the limousine and two bystanders.

Relatives said the group was headed to a birthday party when the limo crashed in the town of Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee).

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5:20 p.m.

Records indicate that the limousine company involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York is owned by a noted FBI informant.

Federal transportation records say Prestige Limousine was owned by Shahed Hussain and was based at a motel in Gansevoort.

Court records show that the Shahed Hussain who owns that motel gained fame in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks for infiltrating Muslim groups for the FBI.

He posed as a terrorist sympathizer in at least three investigations.

In one case, he helped convict men accused of plotting to bomb New York synagogues.

Albany-area attorney Dana Salazar, who represented Hussain in a civil case, says she knew of his background as an informant but didn’t have knowledge of his limo business.

Calls to the limo company went unanswered.

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1:20 p.m.

The sister of a woman killed in a limousine crash in upstate New York says her heart is “sunken” and she’s in a “place where I’ve never felt this type of pain before.”

Karina Halse visited the crash site Monday in Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee) and talked about her 26-year-old sister, Amanda Halse, who she said was in the limo with her boyfriend, Patrick Cushing. Halse said her sister was a waitress at Shaker Point in Watervliet, and that she and Patrick “were two peas in a pod.”

The sisters were texting Saturday as Amanda Halse got into the limo, bound for a birthday party. But before Amanda Halse received her sister’s reply, she died in the crash.

Two pedestrians and 18 occupants of the limousine all died, including four sisters.

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12:40 p.m.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a limousine involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York had failed a state inspection and should not have been on the road.

He said Monday in Manhattan the vehicle had been inspected by the state’s transportation department just last month.

Cuomo also said the driver didn’t have the appropriate license and the stretch limo had been rebuilt in a way that violated federal law.

He said the company, Prestige Limousine, “has a lot to answer for.”

Calls to the limousine company rang unanswered Monday.

The crash Saturday in the town of Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee) killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of a limousine, including four sisters. Relatives said the group was headed to a birthday party.

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11:45 a.m.

One of the 20 people killed in a limo crash in upstate New York worked in the technology office of the state Senate.

Senate Leader John Flanagan on Monday called Patrick Cushing an “extraordinary” employee and “wonderful young man.”

Saturday’s crash in the town of Schoharie killed 18 occupants of the limousine and two pedestrians.

Suzanne Douglass said her nephew, Matthew Coons, of Johnstown, also died in the crash.

She says he had “a golden heart” and “made you laugh so hard until you cried.”

Relatives said the group was in the limo for a birthday celebration.

A memorial gathering was planned for Monday evening in Amsterdam, New York, where some of the victims lived.

The group included four sisters and two brothers.

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9 a.m.

Grief counseling and a vigil will be held following a devastating accident that killed 20 people in upstate New York.

The crash on Saturday in the town of Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee) killed two pedestrians and 18 occupants of a limousine, including four sisters.

Relateives said the group of young adults was headed to a birthday party. Some lived in nearby Amsterdam, New York, and grew up together. Two of the couples were newlyweds.

The Amsterdam school district is offering grief counseling Monday. One of the victims, Abby Jackson, was a teacher there.

She and her husband Adam left behind two daughters: 4-year-old Archer and 16-month-old Elle.

Democratic State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara says the vigil will be held on Monday evening in Amsterdam.

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This item has been corrected to show that some victims, not all, lived in nearby Amsterdam.

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12:15 p.m.

The manager of a store in upstate New York says the nearby intersection where a limo crashed, killing 20 people over the weekend, has long been dangerous.

Jessica Kirby is managing director of the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe in Schoharie (skoh-HAYR’-ee) New York. She says that three tractor-trailers have blown through the same stop sign in the past.

Relatives say the limousine was carrying four sisters, relatives and friends to a 30th birthday celebration when it crashed Saturday, killing all 18 in the limo and two pedestrians.

Kirby says of the accidents, “we have been asking for something to be done for years.”

Associated Press

Associated Press

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