First responders honored in limo crash vigil

The community of Schoharie thanked the responders for their efforts at a vigil held near the site of a limousine crash that killed 20 people

SCHOHARIE, N.Y. — A vigil was held to thank first responders and mourn the victims of a limousine crash that killed 20 people.

Democrat & Chronicle reported that community members honored first responders for their efforts after a limousine crashed outside of Apple Barrel Country Store, resulting in the deaths of 17 passengers, the driver and two bystanders.

"The people that responded, because we’re a small community, they are good friends of ours," Jessica Kirby, whose family owns the country store, said. "We know how much we’re suffering. We can only imagine how they are suffering and the victims’ families are suffering. So it’s just important to do something here in Schoharie."


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Schoharie Fire Department Chief Marty Pierce said responders have been leaning on each other for support and have gone through two counseling sessions to cope with the disaster.

"The fire companies and the first responders that were involved will be there this evening," Chief Pierce said. "And this has taken quite a toll on quite a few of the first responders."

Chief Pierce added that the vigil meant a lot to the responders.

“I think it's very humbling,” he said. “It’s an honor what they did for the first responders here this evening. We came for the victims’ families; we didn’t come to be honored. We sign on for this job.”


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A standing ovation was given as Gallupville Fire Department Chaplain Russ Underwood read off a list of departments that responded to the incident.

Central Bridge Fire Department Third Assistant Chief Travis Hoffman, who was one of the first chiefs to arrive on scene, said he had never seen anything like the fatal crash.

“I knew I had to call in more reinforcements than what was coming,” he said.

Firefighters embraced during a rendition of “Lean on Me,” during which the names of the victims were read off.

The crash is being investigated as a criminal incident, and the limousine company owner’s son was charged with criminally negligent homicide.

"I don't think we're going to get to the answer why because that is in God's hands," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said at the vigil. "But I'll tell you right now, as your Lieutenant Governor, representing the state of New York, we will find out how."


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