A limo crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people is officially the deadliest U.S. transportation accident since February 2009, when a Continental Airlines flight crashed into a house and killed 50 people. The reason for the crash, which killed all 18 limo occupants and two pedestrians on Saturday, is still being investigated.
According to CNN, the limo was transporting a family to a brewery near Cooperstown, New York, to celebrate the birthday of Amy Steenburg, a 30-year-old who had just tied the knot a month ago. Steenburg's husband, her four sisters, and their respective husbands all died in the accident. Two of the siblings involved were also parents, leaving a 10- and 14-year-old behind according to People.
The couple had hired what appears to be a coach bus of some sort to transport the partygoers to the brewery, but they were contacted shortly before the vehicle's arrival and told that the bus had broken down, so a stretched 2001 Ford Excursion would be provided instead. According to Fox News, the aunt of one of the victims had received a text message prior to the accident that claimed the Excursion was in "terrible condition."
It has since been announced by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo that the Excursion had failed inspection one month prior to transporting the passengers and, additionally, the driver was not licensed to pilot the vehicle. According to Governor Cuomo, the limo was "not supposed to be on the road."
Local authorities haven't released the exact cause of the accident but did share that the speeding is believed to be a factor. The intersection the Excursion lost control at has a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, so it was considered a high-speed crash. After failing to stop at the intersection, the limo impacted a parked Toyota Highlander, which allegedly struck and killed two pedestrians before the Excursion came to rest on a nearby ditch.
Governor Cuomo shared his condolences to the families involved via Twitter, calling the events "horrific" and claiming that state agencies will do everything they can to aid in the investigation. Meanwhile, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt also said an NTSB team would investigate the crash.
Update at 2:20 p.m. EST: After this article was originally published, news broke of the limo's below-par roadworthiness and a failed inspection was confirmed. That information is now reflected in the body of the text above.