SCHOHARIE -- Plans for a permanent memorial to the 20 people who died in the Oct. 6 stretch limousine crash in Schoharie are moving forward.
The Reflections Memorial Foundation, which is being spearheaded by the Loder family that owns the Apple Barrel Country Store near the crash site, has formed an 11-member board of directors and announced plans for a fundraiser to be held Sunday, Nov. 4, in Schoharie.
The goal of the non-profit foundation will be to fund a memorial to the crash victims, who died when a stretch limousine went through a stop sign at state routes 30 and 30A and through the parking lot of the Apple Barrel, before going over a low embankment. The driver, 17 passengers and two pedestrians in the parking lot of the Apple Barrel were all killed. The passengers were a group of friends from the Amsterdam area, including four sisters and three of their spouses. The tragedy has prompted communitywide outpouring of grief in both Schoharie and Amsterdam.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, and so are state police, who have charged limo company operator Nauman Hussain of Cohoes with criminally negligent homicide, alleging that he knew the 2001 Ford Excursion stretch limo had failed a recent brake inspection, and the driver didn't have the proper license to transport so many people.
A large makeshift memorial has sprung up at the crash site and the Loden family last week announced plans for a permanent one.
Jessica Loden Kirby is president of the foundation, with Joshua Loden as secretary. The newly announced board includes Ben Ziskin, a vice president at NBT Bank: John Gray, writer and television journalist; John Hubbard, the Delaware County district attorney; Lesley Lanzi, chief investment officer at Fulton-Montgomery Community College; Lois Goblet, owner of Hessian Hill Farm in Schoharie and foundation treasurer; Mike Reilly, president of Oakwells, a travel industry retailer; Shirley Ball, co-owner of Schoharie Valley Farms and vice president of the foundation; and Tracey Crammer Purcell, owner of Grapevine Farms in Cobleskill.
The foundation also announced details for a fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 4, to be held from 1-4 p.m. at Hessian Hill Farm, 576 Treadlemire Road, Schoharie. Comedian Greg Aidala will be master of ceremonies, with performers including Matt Durfee, the Andrea Scow Band, and Black Fox River Project. Admission will be $10; food and beverage profits will also go to the foundation.
Donations may also be mailed to the Reflections Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 488, Schoharie, NY, 12157. There is also a website, reflectionsmemorialfoundation.org, and a Facebook page.
A separate Oct. 28 fundraiser at Mohawk Harbor in Schenectady is raising money for the victims' families.