'I've Never Felt This Type of Pain Before': 1,000 Attend Vigil for 20 Victims of NY Limo Crash

(Screenshot: WRGB-TV)Vigil in Schoharie, New York, for the 20 victims of a limousine car crash held on October 8, 2018.

Relatives and friends of the 20 people who died in Schoharie, New York, in a limousine crash spoke of their pain and sorrow as 1,000 attended a vigil in Amsterdam on Monday night.

"My heart is sunken. It's in a place where I've never felt this type of pain before," said Karina Halse. Her 26-year-old sister, Amanda, was one of the 20 who lost their lives when a limousine ran a stop sign and hit a parked SUV on Saturday.

CNN reported that that victims included newlyweds, siblings, and young couples. All 17 inside the limo died, along with the driver and two pedestrians. 

The cause of the crash is not yet known, though New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed that the driver "did not have the appropriate driver's license to be operating that vehicle."

"We don't know the cause of the accident, if it was a vehicle malfunction, if it was a driver malfunction (or) a driver error," Cuomo added.

What is more, the governor said, the limo had been built without federal certification, and was originally a heavy-duty SUV that had been cut apart and lengthened.

The incident is the deadliest U.S. transportation accident in nearly a decade, officials reported.

"Twenty fatalities. It's just horrific," said Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

"This is one of the biggest losses of life that we've seen in a long, long time."

Amy Dunlop-Johnson told NPR on Sunday that three of her relatives were killed, namely her cousin, Axel "A.J." Steenburg, 29; his wife, Amy; and his brother, Rich, 34.

"Amy and A.J. just got married in June," Dunlop-Johnson said. "They were the couple everyone envied. They had a perfect relationship. They were so good together, always laughing."

"It's devastating," she added, noting that she was close with Rich and Axel.

"We always got together, and go out to bars and go to parties and have a good time. We were the close ones. It's shocking that this happened."

CBS' Albany, N.Y., affiliate WRGB-TV reported that over 1,000 people attended Monday night's vigil in Amsterdam.

"Tears flowed freely and embraces wrapped tight, as 20 lives taken in one awful accident were honored," WRGB-TV said.

"Everybody knew somebody. Some knew a few, I knew just about everybody," Chris Lanzi, one of the vigil-goers, told the station.

A woman started singing "Amazing Grace" in the proceedings, while people raised their candles above their heads in unity.

"We are crushed with you, we are crushed for you," said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from Amsterdam.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer added on Twitter: "May God bless the families who lost loved ones, as well as my dear friends from Schoharie emergency service agencies who responded."

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