One of the 18 people inside a limousine that slammed into an SUV in upstate New York on Oct. 6, killing everyone plus two pedestrians, sent a text message saying the vehicle was in “terrible condition.”
Erin Vertucci and her husband Shane McGowan, newlyweds who were identified as two of the 20 people killed, sent a text message to her cousin just 20 minutes before the deadly accident.
“The vehicle appeared in terrible condition,” said Valerie Abeling, Vertucci’s aunt, recalling the message sent to her daughter.
Abeling told the Washington Post that her daughter, who was invited to the party the group in the limo was headed to but didn’t go, told her the group had rented “some kind of bus” to go to Cooperstown but that the bus broke down.
The travel provider then sent the stretch limo to take the group the rest of the way.
Officials said the limo was descending a hill on Route 30 in Schoharie and failed to stop at an intersection, a T-junction, where there’s a stop sign. It then flew across the street and slammed into an unoccupied and parked SUV in a parking lot; two pedestrians, who were standing nearby, were killed.
“These were friends just starting their lives, getting married and this is how it ended,” Abeling said. “It’s a tragic loss of beautiful souls.”
Deadliest Crash in Nine Years
The crash was the deadliest in the United States in nearly 10 years, Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters at a briefing on Oct. 7. A February 2009 Colgan Air Flight crash in Buffalo left 50 people dead.
“Twenty fatalities is just horrific,” Sumwalt said of the Oct. 6 accident, reported the Albany Times-Union. “I’ve been on the board for 12 years, and this is one of the biggest losses of life that we’ve seen in a long, long time.”
Investigators from the board rushed to the scene of the accident to start a probe, which was set to include an examination of road conditions at the time of the crash in addition to whether any mechanical problems with the limo, a 2001 Ford Excursion, may have been a factor in the crash.
Investigators estimated they’d need five days to collect evidence before preparing a report.