Limo deaths: The faces of America's worst horror crash in decade

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Drone footage shows the intersection where 20 people were killed in a limousine crash in Schoharie, New York.

State police confirmed Sunday that the death toll was 20 and said the crash involved two vehicles.

Authorities later determined that the vehicle had failed a safety inspection last month, and that the limo driver did not have the necessary commercial licence to operate the vehicle.

He said the company, Prestige Limousine, "has a lot to answer for".

Investigators also will be looking into "human performance" - the driver's history and qualifications, conducting toxicology tests and determining whether fatigue was a factor, he said. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, four of the company's vehicles have been deemed unsafe and taken out of service since 2016, and the company's vehicles had an 80 percent failure rate at vital safety inspections.

The limousine passengers, a close-knit group of 17 friends had originally rented "some kind of bus" Saturday to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday, Valerie Abeling said. Erin McGowan's cousin, Patrick Cushing, was also among the dead.

Halse's sister, Karina Halse, told ABC News she had been texting with her sister as she got into the limo on Saturday.

"My heart is completely sunken", Karina said.

Amanda, 26, a waitress at a retirement community, was "a very strong and independent person" who didn't like people to do things for her, according to her sister.

"There's a bit of a Frankenstein approach, where a vehicle is chopped up and put back together with parts that were not originally designed for that vehicle", said Deborah Hersman, president of the National Safety Council advocacy group and a former NTSB chair.

Authorities have yet to determine whether any of the occupants of the limo were wearing seatbelts, or whether or not the driver had exceeded the speeding limit of 50 miles per hour. Was he in any way impaired, either by drugs, alcohol or fatigue?

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the Apple Barrel Country Store thanked emergency responders for their actions in the aftermath of the "horrific" accident.

"There have been tractor trailers that have come barreling down that hill and it was a miracle they didn't kill somebody", Tavenner said. Officials worked with the state to stop heavy trucks using the intersection, she said, but accidents had continued to happen.

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"We have been asking for something to be done for years", she said in an email.

Records indicate that the limousine company involved in the crash is owned by a noted Federal Bureau of Investigation informant.

The 19-seater limo ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV. Two pedestrians standing nearby also were fatally struck, Fiore added.

"They did the responsible thing getting a limo so they wouldn't have to drive anywhere", their aunt, Barbara Douglas, said Sunday.

"My big sister was so great and she was so wonderful".

A vigil will be held Monday night in Amsterdam, where some victims lived. The couple married in June and were among a tight circle made up mostly of old high school and neighborhood friends from Amsterdam, New York.

The crash appeared to be the deadliest land-vehicle accident in the U.S. since a bus ferrying nursing home patients away from Hurricane Rita caught fire in Texas 2005, killing 23.

The National Transportation Safety Board will examine federal oversight of the limousine industry as part of its investigation into the crash, the deadliest US transportation accident since 2009, Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

Police offered few details about what the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board called a "horrific crash" in the town of Schoharie. The driver, who was killed in the crash, has not been identified.

More than 37,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2017, according to federal data.

There was no information Sunday on the limousine, its origin or its integrity.

The close nature of those killed Saturday can be seen in the comments of Amy Steenburg's post from last week, specifically in a comment about the couch.

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