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Newlywed couple among 20 wedding guests killed in a New York limousine horror crash while traveling to watch their friends get married
One of the victims killed in a horrific limousine crash in upstate New York on Saturday allegedly texted her cousin to say the vehicle was in “terrible condition” prior to the accident that killed 20 people.
Valerie Abeling, the aunt of Erin McGowan, who died along with her new husband, Shane McGowan, said Erin sent her daughter a message complaining about the state of the car just 20 minutes before the crash. “The vehicle appeared in terrible condition,” Abeling told The Washington Post.
A newlywed couple and the parents of two young children were among the 20 people killed in a horrific wedding limousine crash in upstate New York on Saturday.
Family have identified Erin and Shane McGowan, who only just tied the knot in June, as two of the victims. They were guests at the wedding.
Adam and Abby Jackson, parents to four-year-old Archer and 16-month-old Abby, have also been identified.
Eighteen of the victims were in the limo and two were bystanders, according to the Associated Press.
Two vehicles were involved in the crash, which occurred just before 2pm at the intersection of State Route 30 and State Route 30A.
Local officials said the limo was speeding down a hill and crashed into bystanders in front of the popular Apple Barrel County Store in Schoharie.
The SUV-style stretch limousine was reportedly carrying guests on the way to the wedding when it collided with the other vehicle.
Newlyweds Erin and Shane McGowan (pictured together) were among the 20 people who were killed in a horrific wedding limousine crash in upstate New York on Saturday
Anthony Vertucci, Erin's father, spoke of the 'darkness and devastation' that had hit his family and shared photos of his daughter's wedding day in a heartbreaking tribute.
'My heart has stopped,' he wrote. 'Unspeakable tragedy that I can't comprehend and will never come to terms with.'
'I just wanted all of you to see pictures of Erin and Shane, these two beautiful and amazing people, on the best and happiest days of their lives.
Susan Minicki McGowan, Shane's mother, also shared a photo and tribute to her son and daughter-in-law.
'Our family will never the same after the tragic deaths of our son Shane and daughter Erin,' she wrote.
A GoFundMe campaign was launched for Archer and Elle after they lost both parents in the crash.
'Adam and Abby were amazing parents to these girls and taken much too soon,' the description reads.
'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.'
Bridey Finnegan, who lived near the crash site, said she heard a 'loud bang' when the two vehicles collided in front of Apple Barrel, a store popular with tourists.
'I heard a loud bang, I came out my front door to see what was going on,' she told WTEN.
Local officials said the limo was speeding down a hill and crashed into bystanders in front of the popular Apple Barrel County Store (pictured) in Schoharie
'I saw a lot of people here at the Apple Barrel out in the parking lot. Then I heard screaming.'
'Then I saw this large van, a very unusual looking vehicle out here in Schoharie in the bushes and really wrecked, hit a tree.'
Finnegan said she watched as first responders broke windows to try and rescue people inside.
And witnesses said several bodies could be seen on the ground outside the store.
The Schoharie County Sheriff's Office, New York State Police, and emergency crews from the Red Cross all responded to the scene.
Six ambulances, three fire companies, and two helicopters were at the accident site, according to the Albany Times Union.
Shane's mother shared a photo of the pair with his family after learning of the tragic news
Witnesses also saw people running out of the Apple Barrel cafe to try and help after the accident.
New York Gov Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Sunday afternoon, saying his 'heart breaks for the 20 people who lost their lives in this horrific accident'.
'I commend the first responders who arrived on the scene and worked through the night to help. State police are working with federal and local authorities to investigate the crash, and I have directed State agencies to provide every resource necessary to aid in this investigation and determine what led to this tragedy.'
'I join all New Yorkers in mourning these deaths and share in the unspeakable sorrow experienced by their families.'
Apple Barrel closed following the crash on Saturday and released a statement about the tragic incident on Facebook.
'As you may be aware, there was a horrific accident in front of our business today,' the statement read.
'First, we want to thank all of the emergency services that responded. We are so thankful for all of you.'
'We will be open for business for tomorrow. We hope you will come and share your smiles, love, friendship and hugs with us. We also hope you will share your change. We will be collecting donations for our local volunteer emergency services. They are the heroes of our small community.'
'Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone that was affected by the events of today. You will always be part of our family.'
The National Transportation Safety Board is sending a 'go-team' to the crash site from Washington DC, which are used to investigate major accidents.
Alan Tavenner, the Schoharie Town Supervisor, said the state's Department of Transportation tried to make the intersection safer seven years ago, but that the changes did little to help.
'There have been tractor trailers that have come barreling down that hill and it was a miracle they didn't kill somebody,' he said.
The crash occurred during the city's 'Old Stone Fort' weekend, which residents said is the biggest tourism day of the year for the small town.
The Schoharie County Sheriff's Office, New York state police and emergency crews from the Red Cross all responded to the scene
Authorities stayed at the crash site for hours as they began their investigation on Saturday