Mourn­ers pay re­spects to crash vic­tims

Pro­ces­sion of more than 1,000 com­mu­nity mem­bers line up to say good­bye in Am­s­ter­dam

Albany Times Union - - FRONT PAGE - By Sara Cline

Peo­ple at the back of the line out­side the church talked with oth­ers hud­dled around them, shar­ing sto­ries about the vic­tims.

But as time passed, and peo­ple got closer to the en­trance, it grew silent.

The re­al­ity set in. It was time to say good­bye.

Hun­dreds at Am­s­ter­dam’s St. Stanis­laus Ro­man Catholic Church paid their re­spects Fri­day af­ter­noon at the wake of eight of the 20 peo­ple killed dur­ing Satur­day’s limou­sine crash in Schoharie.

The wake was for four sis­ters, their hus­bands and brother of one of the hus­bands; Abigail (King) Jack­son, Adam Jack­son, Mary (King) Dyson, Robert J. Dyson, Al­li­son A. King, Amy (King) Steen­burg, Axel J. Steen­burg and Richard Steen­burg Jr.

Also Fri­day at a fu­neral home in Am­s­ter­dam, mourn­ers paid their re­spects at the wake of Pa­trick Cush­ing, an­other crash vic­tim.

“This has been dif­fi­cult,” U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said as he left the wake for the eight vic­tims. His eyes were tear-filled, his voice shaky. “It’s un­nat­u­ral to lose so many peo­ple from a small town. But every­one just wants to be there for the fam­i­lies.”

The four King sis­ters and the oth-

ers re­mem­bered were Am­s­ter­dam-area na­tives head­ing on a birth­day cel­e­bra­tion out­ing to the Brew­ery Om­megang in Coop­er­stown when the limo they were rid­ing in crashed just be­fore 2 p.m. on an in­ter­sec­tion near the Ap­ple Bar­rel Coun­try Store in the town of Schoharie.

A to­tal of 18 peo­ple in­side the ve­hi­cle, in­clud­ing the driver, were killed, as were two vis­i­tors to the re­gion who were stand­ing nearby the cross­road of routes 30 and 30A.

Most of the vic­tims were from Am­s­ter­dam, a com­mu­nity that con­tin­ues to grap­ple with the tragedy.

“I can’t think of any­thing like this hap­pen­ing be­fore,” Peter Diana, who was pay­ing his re­spects Fri­day, said. “How do you even be­gin to deal with this? How do you tell the kids who lost their par­ents? An en­tire fam­ily is just gone.”

More than 1,000 peo­ple showed up to the King wake. The line ex­tended out of the church and wrapped around the block.

“Peo­ple come to­gether in times of need and this is a dif­fi­cult time,” As­sem­bly­man An­gelo Santabar­bara said as he left the King wake and was head­ing to the Cush­ing wake. “This is one of the most dif­fi­cult times I have seen.”

From fam­ily, friends, politi­cians, col­leagues, for­mer class­mates, fra­ter­nity broth­ers and for­mer teach­ers, peo­ple from all walks of life at­tended the call­ing hours.

Vir­ginia Mee said she had been watch­ing news of the crash, ear­lier in the week, when she rec­og­nized three of the vic­tims — Abigail (King) Jack­son, Al­li­son A. King and Amy (King) Steen­burg.

“I was their eighth-grade English teacher at Lynch Mid­dle School,” Mee said.

Mee had not spoke with or seen them in years, but that didn’t mat­ter; her heart broke for the women and their fam­i­lies.

“It was dev­as­tat­ing,” Mee said. “They were won­der­ful and vi­va­cious women.”

Tonko also re­called re­ceiv­ing news of the crash.

He said he had re­ceived a text, the morn­ing af­ter the crash, in­form­ing him that it was pos­si­ble some of the vic­tims were from Am­s­ter­dam, but he never imag­ined so many were.

“When you first hear the names you may not have known all of them,” Tonko said. “But you soon find out that you went to school with one of the vic­tim’s un­cles, or knew their friends or went to the same gym as them. Every­one is im­pacted by this.”

And the im­pact showed as over a span of five hours, peo­ple con­tin­u­ously walked into the church.

When they came out, there was still si­lence.

“Some­times,” Santabar­bara said, “there are just no words.”

Pho­tos by John Carl D’an­ni­bale / Times Union

Am­s­ter­dam foot­ball cap­tains Trey Aus­feld, left, An­drew Gi­aimo, cen­ter, and Pey­ton Aus­feld carry the jersey of limou­sine crash vic­tim and for­mer Rams player Adam Jack­son to the coin toss be­fore their game with La Salle. Above, mourn­ers leave St. Stanis­laus Church dur­ing a ser­vice for eight of the vic­tims.

John Carl D’an­ni­bale / Times Union

mourn­ers en­ter St. Stanis­laus ro­man Catholic Church to at­tend call­ing hours for eight Schoharie limo crash vic­tims on Fri­day in Am­s­ter­dam. The fu­neral ser­vice will take place at the church on Satur­day.

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