No fewer than 16 online fundraisers have been established to help the families of the 20 people killed in the limousine crash in Schoharie County on Saturday.
As of Thursday evening they had raised a combined $478,225 from 11,385 donors.
Most of the online fundraisers are located on GoFundMe.com, but at least two are on Facebook Fundraiser.
The Facebook Fundraiser titled “The Ashton Family” is raising money for Mary and Kyle Ashton of Caroga Lake, the parents of Michael Ukaj. The fundraiser was created by Christine Armstrong and has raised $6,775, more than its $1,000 goal.
“Michael, served his country in the United States Marine Corp, had just recently turned 34 years old, and his life was suddenly ripped away from them. Michael was a generous, caring young man, filled with energy and ambition. He will be missed deeply by all who knew him,” reads the fundraising page. “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.”
The Facebook Fundraiser titled “The King Family” has raised by far the most money at $271,975. It was created by a Facebook user named “Jamie Elizabeth” to help Tom and Linda King, the parents of four daughters killed in the crash — Abigail Jackson, Mary Dyson, Alison King and Amy Steenburg. The original goal for the fundraiser was $1,000 and has stopped taking donations. It received donations from 7,800 different donors.
“When someone speaks of a parent’s worst nightmare, only one thing comes to mind. On Saturday, October 6th, at 1:55 pm, this fear became a reality for Tom and Linda King. Not only did they lose a child, but they lost four of their beautiful daughters and their husbands. A tragedy of this magnitude is unfathomable to everyone on the outside looking in. Three precious babies were left behind, now facing the world without their moms and dads. A single moment changed their lives forever,” wrote Jamie Elizabeth in the “story” section of the fundraiser page. “The monetary burden of burying their children should be the last of their concerns. Thank you.” Jamie Elizabeth could not be reached by The Gazette.
A Facebook message from Linda King listed among the comments on the fundraiser explained that Jaime and her parents had been neighbors and best friends with her daughters. She said the money raised will go only to funeral expenses and “my three orphaned grandchildren’s education expenses.”
The origin of some of the GoFundMe.com fundraisers has been called into question. A fundraiser titled “Click here to support Angel Lost in NY Limo Crash organized by Shante Camelin” featuring a photo of Shane and Erin McGowan appears to have been pulled off the site.
A GoFundMe page titled “Erin McGowan (Vertucci)” has raised $9,815, more than $1,000 goal, from 165 people. The page was created by Lorraine VanAlstyne of Gloversville. VanAlstyne did not respond to a message from the Daily Gazette.
On Wednesday, Facebook user Colin McGowan, brother to Shane McGowan, posted a status update referencing the Erin McGowan page saying: “On behalf of my family, we did not create any GoFundMe page and do not wish to have any created in our name. Please remove any page immediately, thank you,” and then asked other users to share the message.
After Colin McGowan’s message, the “story” section of the Erin McGowan (Vertucci) GoFundMe page changed to read, “Thank you everyone who has donated. This page has been set up by the friends and long-time colleagues of Erin’s mother, Lynne, with the permission of the Vertucci family. As we all manage through our grief during this challenging time, we wish to support Lynne and her family with any expenses they might incur in the days and weeks to come. All funds donated will be managed through Erin’s estate. We appreciate all the love and support being provided to us during this very difficult time. Please note that these donations are specifically associated to the Vertucci family and Erin’s estate only.”
Two GoFundMe.com pages have been created for Scott Lisinicchia, the driver of the limousine that crashed. One page, created by “Thea X”, features a picture with a quote from a John Donne poem, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” The Thea X fundraiser has raised $5,743 of its $15,000 goal from 138 people in three days.
The GoFundMe page story reads: “Scott passed away tragically in an unfortunate limousine accident in Schoharie, NY. Words cannot express the grief and sorrow that we, his family and friends are experiencing. The entire community is shocked and devastated with the news of this terrible accident and Scott’s untimely passing. The intention of this GoFundMe is to assist the Lisinicchia family with the final arrangements for Scott. The funds will be withdrawn to cover the unexpected and heavy burden of Scott’s burial expenses.”
A second page created in Scott Lisinicchia’s name seeks $20,000 in donations, and had not received any as of Thursday night. Unlike all of the other pages associated with the tragedy this page appears to have been created 42 months ago by “Thea Broadus Griggs Memorials,” but it contains a story, a feature that can be updated, describing the Saturday crash.
Other GoFundMe fundraisers for the victims of the accident include:
Rachael Cavosie’s Family
Created by Anthony Huff
Money raised: $52,304 of $15,000 goal.
“The purpose of this fundraiser is to support Rachael’s parents, Michael and Jeannine, and her three siblings Maeghan, Drew, and Aidan,” reads the story. “All proceeds will be given to Rachael’s father, Michael Cavosie.”
Created by Tammy Lee Richardson
Money raised: $8,220 of $2,000 goal
“My name is Tammy Richardson, Matthew Coons’ Aunt. On 10/6/18 my sister-in-law Jill Richardson-Perez received word that would change her life forever. A parent’s worst nightmare, her son Matthew Coons had been in a horrific accident that claimed his life. My sister-in law-will have so many hard days for the the rest of her life, and one should not be how will she will afford to bury her sweet child. I ask that any amount of money you can donate will be greatly appreciated. All money will be given to Jill to defer the cost associated with this tragic incident.”
The Dyson Family
Created by Mynderse Academy Class of 2002
Money raised: $41,150 of $50,000 goal
According to the page, the members of the graduating class of 2002 intend to present the funds to Robert Dyson’s mother for the purpose of helping with care and education of Isaac Dyson, the child of Robert and Mary Dyson.
Amanda Halse’s Family
Created by Michael Cooper
Money raised: $15,243 of $15,000 goal
“The purpose of this fundraiser is to support Amanda’s parents, Ed and Martina, and her two siblings Kevin and Karina,” reads the page. “All proceeds will be given to Amanda’s father, Ed Halse.”
In Loving Memory of Amanda Halse
Created by Audrey Charron
Money raised: $4,755 of $8,000 goal
“All donations will go directly to Amanda’s family,” reads the page.
Created by Erin Klein Hough
Money raised: $27,480 of $100,000 goal
“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,” reads the page. “You may make a donation here or you may make a personal donation payable to Jackie Schnurr and mail to Erin & James Hough, 6428 Creekbend Drive, Mechanicsburg PA 17050. By doing so, you will be able to make Jackie and Benny continue to strive for their dreams and future.”
In Loving Memory of Brian Hough
Created by Gabi Mei
Money raised: $5,203 of $5,000 goal
“Brian Hough was a beloved husband, father, friend, and important member of the SUNY Oswego staff and Geology Department. He inspired so many of his students and in his short time as a professor on campus, Brian made lasting impacts on all of the lives around him.”
“Gone way too soon …”, Amanda Rivenburg
Created by Fundraising Team on behalf of Thomas Rivenburg
Money raised: $9,900 of $3,000 goal
“Amanda was only 28 yrs old. Loved her life. She was always smiling no matter what. You would just smile to see her walk in a room. She leaves behind her dad Tom Rivenburg and her mom Donna Rivenburg. She had two pitbull doggies she absolutely loved named Hazel and Jada. She worked for Living Resources of New York for the past 7 years,” reads the page. “Amanda was a cheerleader and softball player growing up. She loved the Mets and every year she and her dad would take a trip to see the Mets play. There truly aren’t enough words to describe this young lady.”
Rich and Axel Steenburg
Created by Fundraising Team Emergencies
Money raised: $27,082 of $35,000 goal
A note added to the page Tuesday reads: “I am Rich’s sister in law. This fundraiser is to help cover future expenses to care for Rich’s wife Kim, daughter Aubrie (10 years old) and stepson Owen (14 years old). We appreciate all of your support.”
Created by Eric Steenburg
Money raised: $920 of $14,000 goal
“Amongst the 20 people were Rich Steenburg, Axel Steenburg and his wife Amy Steenburg along with more family and very close friends. So in attempt to assist the Steenburg family we are asking for help in these dark times.
Anything will help.”
Rich Steenburgs Kids College Fund
Created by Jennifer Miller/Kim Steenburg
Money raised: $660 of $100,000 goal
“Rich Steenburg Loving Father and husband lost his life in the tragic accident on Oct. 6th in Schoharie limo crash. He leaves behind a wife Kim Steenburg and two amazing children, Owen and Aubrey. We are setting up this go fund me for college funds for his two beautiful kids. Rich always wanted to make sure his family was taken care of, so please help us do just that!”
Editor’s note: This story was corrected at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2018. An earlier version incorrectly cited the source of the quote: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
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