Twenty people were dead and a picturesque, upstate New York community was in shock and mourning Sunday after a "horrific" crash of a limousine van near an intersection of rural, winding roads.
State Police spokesman Christopher Fiore said the limousine failed to stop at the intersection in the town of Schoharie and slammed into a parked SUV. Eighteen people in the limousine, including the driver, and two pedestrians were killed in the Saturday crash, he said.
"Everyone inside the limousine was killed," Fiore said.
Schoharie is a town of 3,300 people about 160 miles north of New York City. The National Transportation Safety Board was on the scene. Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said it was the biggest U.S. transportation accident since 2009.
"Twenty fatalities is just horrific," he said.
The crash took place next to the Apple Barrel Country Store and Cafe in an area popular with tourists during the fall foliage season. Owners posted condolences on Facebook and said the Apple Barrel was open Sunday to share "hugs" with neighbors.
"This is a wonderful, small-knit community of people who care about each other," Liz Gallup, who works at the store and has lived nearby for almost 60 years, told USA TODAY. "People are coming in, they are hugging, they are sharing."
The 2001 Ford Excursion limousine ended up in a deep ditch along the side of the road. Gallup said the crash, which she did not witness, occurred adjacent to the store's parking lot. She added that she was glad the store opened, despite the massive investigation taking place outside.
"To be closed would have been harder for everyone," she said. "People want to know we are OK."
The ensuing 911 calls drew a phalanx of first responders. At least one of the injured was flown to Albany Medical Center Hospital, Fiore said.
"As you may be aware, there was a horrific accident in front of our business today," the Apple Barrel said in its Facebook post. "We hope you will come and share your smiles, love, friendship and hugs with us."
The store also asked that customers "share your change" as donations to local first responders.