Capital Region

Schoharie accident victims remembered by family, friends

20 people killed in accident
Amanda Rivenburg was among the 20 victims in the Schoharie limousine crash.
Amanda Rivenburg was among the 20 victims in the Schoharie limousine crash.

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Stories of love and friendship and photos of young people with smiling faces will be forever linked to the tragic limousine accident in Schoharie.

Twenty people were killed in Saturday’s traffic accident, which national transportation officials have described as the nation’s deadliest motor vehicle accident since 2009.

People are trying to help. Several fundraising pages have emerged on GoFundMe, with donations intended for child care and funeral expenses.

Some funeral service dates have been announced.

A combined funeral service will be held for the four King sisters and three of the sisters’ husbands.

Officials at the Betz, Rossi, Bellinger & Stewart Funeral Homes said Tuesday that services for Abigail (King) Jackson and her husband Adam Jackson; Mary (King) Dyson and her husband Robert J. Dyson; Allison A. King; Amy (King) Steenburg and her husband Axel J. Steenburg; and Axel’s brother Richard Steenburg Jr. would be conducted as follows:

A “gathering for family, friends and the community” will be held Friday from 3 until 7 p.m. at St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church, 50-52 Cornell St., Amsterdam.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Stanislaus. Burial services will be private.

Here are some stories about the victims:

Patrick Cushing

A sense of humor, a knowledge of computers and a passion for dodgeball were on Cushing’s personal resume.

Cushing dodged and threw for USA dodgeball teams in the 2016 and 2018 Dodgeball World Cups. Michelle Radley of Averill Park was also on the national dodgeball scene. She said Cushing loved the sport.

“The passion he had for dodgeball was unreal,” Radley said. “He was the most honest and most hardworking player that I’ve ever met. I would consider him the best that’s ever played the game.”

Cushing, who lived with Amanda Halse, also was a comedian with his friends.

“He always liked to joke,” Radley said. “He would say the most random things that most people probably wouldn’t say, but he’s the one who would actually come out and say it. He didn’t like to be serious. He wanted to make sure everybody had a good time. He would do whatever it took to get people to laugh.”

Cushing worked for the state Senate in the technology services unit.

“He was an extraordinary employee and a wonderful young man who was loved by all,” said Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan in a Facebook post. “He will be greatly missed by his Senate family.”

Calling hours for Cushing will be held Friday from 4 until 7 p.m. at the Riley Mortuary, 110 Division St., Amsterdam. Funeral services will be held Saturday at 9 a.m. at St. Mary’s Church, 156 E. Main St., Amsterdam.

Mary (King) and Rob Dyson

Mary King Dyson and Robert Dyson graduated from Clarkson University in Potsdam in 2007, according to a post on the university’s Facebook page. The school conducted a candlelight vigil on campus Monday night.

The Dysons leave 3-year-old son Isaac. 

Funds are being raised for the family.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the King and Dyson families,” the post read. “Clarkson is a tight-knit community. All losses like this cause us to come together and reflect on the friendships we’ve made.”

Amanda Halse

Halse worked as a server, bartender and supervisor at Shaker Pointe at Carondelet, a retirement community located in Watervliet.

Greg Reeves, a regional vice president at the Compass Group, which provides restaurant services at the complex, said Halse worked mostly in Shaker Pointe’s residential dining room and a new venture, The Restaurant at The Pointe.

Reeves believes Halse was born with an “old soul.”

“You can’t train certain aspects,” Reeves said. “We can train hard skills, but Amanda had an old soul. She was just really comfortable taking care of elders and communicating and connecting with them. That doesn’t come natural for a lot of young folks, but it was natural for her.”

Reeves also said about a dozen staffers at Shaker Pointe met during a grief counseling session on Tuesday.

“The theme was the same,” he said. “Just a special person smiling and caring for each other and one another. She took care of her peers just as much as she took care of our guests and residents.

Shane and Erin McGowan

Shane McGowan and his wife Erin McGowan had just married
in June.

Amsterdam Deputy Mayor James Martuscello, who represents the 5th Ward, said he was the gym instructor for Shane McGowan when he went to St. Mary’s Institute before going on to the Greater Amsterdam SchoolDistrict for high school.  Martuscello said he’d lost track of Shane  for a few years before reconnecting with him when the two started having morning coffee together at the Five Corners Mobil gas station on Church Street.

“I’d see him every morning. I was very heartbroken to hear about this, I had known him since he was in grammar school. He had grown up to be a fine young man, who grew up to be successful, I was very proud of him,” he said. 

“I have the best fiance in the whole world,” Shane McGowan wrote in a Facebook post on May 11.

Erin McGowan had worked as an administrative assistant at St. Mary’s Healthcare in Amsterdam.

St. Mary’s issued a news release Tuesday expressing support for the many victims of the accident.

“The St. Mary’s Healthcare family sends thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of those involved in the Schoharie tragedy. 

Shane McGowan was a 2011 graduate of The Sage Colleges in Albany. The college issued a news release honoring Shane’s passing. The release highlighted his high school athletic career where he was a baseball and basketball star and served baseball team captain and MVP.

Amanda Rivenburg

Amanda Rivenburg of Colonie was the associate director of the day community opportunities program at Living Resources, anorganization in Albany that helps people with disabilities. Rivenberg was friends with Amy Steenburg from college. They both graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2011.

Rivenburg began her studies in 2007 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She lived on campus for two years in Moffitt and Hood Halls.

Friends and co-workers described Rivenburg in social media posts as being a star employee at Living Resources, and as having found a true calling in her work with the disabled.

Matthew Coons and Savannah Bursese

Matthew Coons of Fultonville and his girlfriend Savannah Devonne Bursese of Broadalbin are remembered fondly by their friend James Farina of Fultonville.

Farina said he got to know Coons and Bursese while working out at the Alpin Haus Fitness Center in Amsterdam. He said the couple socialized at his home in Fultonville and Coons was very supportive of Farina’s bodybuilding and power-lifting.

“We would work out together and talk about competing and stuff,” Farina said. “Matt was very into bodybuilding, but he used to come to power-lifting meets and support the people who were into power-lifting and help out and things like that. He was the kind of guy who would help people out, he would literally give you the shirt off his back.”

Coons social media profile lists him as having a personal trainer certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has having been a former infantryman in the U.S. Army.

Farina said Coons also did work as a home improvement contractor.

Farina said the attribute he will remember the most about his friend
Coons was the way he laughed.

“He had a very notable laugh, If you met him you would remember it, I
can picture him laughing. If you went out with him it would be fun, it
would smiles and laughs,” he said.

Calling hours for Bursese will be held Thursday from 3 until 7 p.m. at the Walrath & Stewart Funeral Home, 51 Fremont St., Gloversville. A private service will take place Friday.


Rachael Cavosie

Known as “Rach” to her friends, Rachael Cavosie of Waterford was remembered by friends who wished to remain anonymous from the dental hygiene program at Hudson Valley Community College as “awesome,” “an unforgettable presence” who drew people to her, a person who often had “complete candor, but with never an ounce of cruelty,” and as someone who was “loved by everyone.”

A GoFundMe page has been established to support Rachel’s parents, Michael and Jeannine, and her three siblings Maeghan, Drew and Aidan.

Scott T. Lisinicchia

Scott Lisinicchia, 53, of Lake George, was the driver of the limousine
that crashed Saturday.

In a tribute posted to Facebook, Lisinicchia’s wife, Kim, wrote that it “hurts to a core to have to bury my husband.”

Michael C. Ukaj

Michael C. Ukaj of Johnstown died on his birthday.

He was a U.S. Marine Corps. veteran who served in Iraq. A fundraiser to help his parents, Mary and Kyle Ashton, was set up by Christine Armstrong on Facebook.

“Michael was a generous, caring young man, filled with energy and ambition,” Armstrong wrote on the fundraising page. “He will be missed deeply by all who knew him.The last thing a parent should have to think about in a tragedy such as this is how
they will bury their son and how they will move forward. All of the funds will be collected and given directly to Mary and Kyle Ashton, Michael’s parents, to take care of his funeral expenses. I have known his Mother Mary Ashton since Michael was a child, and donors can be rest assured all of it will be given only to his family.”

Brian Hough and James Schnurr

Brian Houg of Moravia, Cayuga County, and his father-in-law James Schnurr, 70, of Kerhonkson, Ulster County, were the two pedestrians killed by the limousine crash Saturday.

Hough was a professor at SUNY Oswego. The United University Professions issued a news release Tuesday paying tribute to Hough:

“We at UUP are deeply saddened by the passing of our UUP brother Brian Hough, whose life was taken in the tragic Schoharie County limousine accident Oct. 6.

“Brian was an assistant professor of geology at SUNY Oswego who arrived at the college in 2016 as a visiting professor.”

UUP President Fred Kowal said the loss of Hough was heartbreaking.

“Brian was a caring family man and a dedicated, hard-working professor who inspired his students,” Kowal said. “He will be greatly missed and always remembered.”

Hough’s family has created a GoFundMe page.

“Our family is completely devastated with the loss of Brian Hough, a husband, father, son, uncle, friend and professor who left our side too early,” is written on the fundraising page.”

Amy (King) and Axel Steenburg

According to the online wedding scrapbook, “The Knot,” Amy and Axel met during the summer of 2015. 

The couple enjoyed common interests such as craft beers and the HBO fantasy drama “Game of Thrones.”

They were married this past June 30 at St. Stephen’s Church in Hagaman, with a reception at the Saratoga Winery in Saratoga Springs. 

Axel Steenburg worked at Globalfoundries. In the last Facebook post that appeared on his page, Steenburg showed off a giving spirit. “I have a 6 person dining room table and a queen bed with frame for anyone who wants them,” he wrote.

Amy King Steenburg graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2011. According to a statement on the college’s Facebook page, Steenburg graduated with a degree in psychology. She played on the women’s soccer team.

Richard Steenburg

Richard was Axel’s brother and also worked at GlobalFoundries.

Adam and Abby Jackson

The Amsterdam couple leaves behind two young daughters — Archer, 4, and Elle, 16 months.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the girls’ welfare and by Tuesday night had reached $108,656 towards a $150,000 goal.

“Adam and Abby were amazing parents to these girls and taken much too soon,” read a statement on the page. “While families will step in and provide loving care for these girls, there will be expenses that we can help with during this time when we otherwise feel so helpless.”

Abby Jackson worked as a reading teacher at Lynch Literacy Academy in Amsterdam. Adam Jackson worked as a deputy commissioner for the board of elections in Montgomery County.

“These past few days have been an extremely difficult and heartbreaking time for our community,” said Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort on his Facebook page. “This incident has affected not only our staff, but friends and families county-wide.”

Allison King

King graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2010, earning a degree in speech communications.

“This is shocking and tragic,” read the statement on the Plattsburgh Facebook page. “We grieve with their surviving family members and all who knew them.”


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