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Schoharie limo crash victims' bodies released

Schoharie limo crash victims' bodies released

Crash victims bodies have been autopsied
Schoharie limo crash victims' bodies released
Hearses line up Tuesday outside Betz, Rossi, Bellinger & Stewart funeral home in Amsterdam, as bodies of victims arrive.
Photographer: Marc Schultz/Daily Gazette Photographer

AMSTERDAM -- The bodies of the 20 people killed in Saturday's limousine crash in Schoharie have begun to be released to funeral homes, following autopsies.

Hearses lined up Tuesday morning outside the Betz, Rossi, Bellinger & Stewart funeral home on Guy Park Avenue, and a representative of the funeral home confirmed it will be handling arrangements for multiple victims of the crash.

Most of those killed in the crash at the intersection of state routes 30 and 30A in Schoharie were from the Amsterdam area, though officially their names have yet to be released. An estimated 2,500 people gathered Monday night at the city's pedestrian bridge across the Mohawk River for a candlelight vigil in support of the families.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday directed that flags across the state been flown as half-mast in honor of the victims.

"In the wake of the Schoharie crash, it is hard to fathom the extent of this tragedy. We lost mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, sisters, brothers and friends, and the community will never be the same," Cuomo said. "The entire family of New York mourns for the lives cut short in this crash. In memory of those who were taken from us, I am directing that flags be lowered to half-staff."

Cuomo said some of those who died were state employees, including Justice Center employee Amy King Steenburg, SUNY-Oswego professor Brian Hough, and Patrick Cushing, a New York State Senate employee.

Also:

The crash involved a stretch limousine owned by Prestige Limousine of Wilton, Saratoga County. The crash remains under investigation by state police and the National Transportation Safety Board. There were autopsies ordered on all of the victims; a state police spokeswoman could not say whether all autopsies -- they are being done at Albany Medical Center -- had been completed, as of Tuesday.

The crash happened at around 2 p.m., when a 2001 Ford Expedition limousine carrying a driver and 17 passengers celebrating a birthday went through the stop sign at the bottom of the Route 30 hill, crossed Route 30A and went into the parking lot of the Apple Barrel Country Store, where it hit an unoccupied vehicle and two pedestrians in the parking lot.

The pedestrians were also killed.

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