They have been described by their family as the "Four Musketeers." Four sisters who had always held a tight bond with one another, but in an instant all four were gone in a horrific car crash that claimed the lives of 20 people Saturday afternoon.
The sisters—Amy Steenburg, Abigail Jackson, Mary Dyson and Allison King—had all been riding in the same stretch limo on their way to celebrate Amy Steenburg's 30th birthday at an Cooperstown, New York brewery, along with three of the sisters' husbands Axel Steenburg, Adam Jackson and Rob Dyson.
But the limo would never arrive at its destination. Instead, it would smash into an unoccupied SUV after running a stop sign, killing two people standing outside, before careening into a ravine. All 18 people in the limo, including the driver, were killed.
And the lives of those inside— some of whom were newlyweds, some of whom were siblings and others who were parents—would be tragically cut short.
"We're just talking layers of tragedy. There are so many families affected by this," Anthony Vertucci, the uncle of newlywed Erin McGowan, who had been on the trip, told the Times Union on Sunday.
The limo had been rented by Amy Steenburg and her husband Axel Steenburg, pictured above, for the birthday celebration, according to The New York Times. The pair had just gotten married in June. According to their wedding page on The Knot, they had meet in the summer of 2015 at a local bar and were soon "spending every moment of their free time together." Eventually, the couple would go on to buy a home together, which they shared with a Bullmastiff puppy named Lady, and spent their free time trying new breweries and traveling.
The birthday party on Saturday had been a surprise for Steenburg from her new husband, her aunt Barbara Douglas told The New York Post.
“They were beautiful girls, full of life. They had their whole lives ahead of them,” she said, according to the news organization.
Axel Steenburg's brother Rich Steenburg had also been along on the fatal trip, The Times reports. The brothers had worked together at GlobalFoundries.
Abby Jackson, was a teacher in the Amsterdam School District, according to the Times Union. She and her husband, Adam, pictured below, leave behind two young daughters, Archer, 4, and Elle, 16 months.
"It is with heavy hearts that we are sad to announce the Star Spangled Family has lost one of our beloved coaches, Mary Dyson and her husband, Rob," they wrote.
Those who knew the sisters describe all four as being very close.
"They were the Four Musketeers," their brother Tom King, 35, told The Post, while outside his parent's home in Amsterdam, New York.
He said his parents were still "in shock" by the sudden death of more than half of their children.
"There was seven of us — five sisters and two brothers," King told The Post.
The families of McGowen and her husband Shane McGowan, who were both in the limo Saturday, are also still grabbling with the news that the couple, who had just gotten married in June, is now gone.
"My whole entire family is in complete and utter shock. It's hard and so tragic," Vertucci said.
His niece had worked in record-keeping at a hospital in Amsterdam and had recently married the love of her life, Vertucci told the Times Union.
"They were finally able to get married and just honestly starting to live their life. They had big plans. They were saving for a house and hoping to do everything that everybody hopes to do," he said.
Rocco Semprivivo, Erin McGowan's stepfather, described his stepdaughter to The Times as "a pretty outgoing, gregarious girl."
Erin McGowan's cousin, Patrick Cushing, and his girlfriend Amanda Halse, 26, were also killed in the crash.
Patrick Cushing's brother, Justin Cushing, described Patrick in a statement obtained by The Times as someone who loved photography and was a member of Team USA Dodgeball.
"He loved, hugged and cried with his family and friends like their problems were his," he said.
He worked for the technology group of the New York Senate.
"He was an extraordinary employee and a wonderful young man who was loved by all," John F. Flanagan, the Senate majority leader wrote in a statement according to The Times. "He will be greatly missed by his Senate family."
Halse's sister, Karina Halse, told ABC News she had been texting with her sister as she got into the limo on Saturday. Karina Halse said she wasn't able to reply before the fatal crash and said the news of her sister's death, who worked as a waitress, has left her in a "place where I've never felt this type of pain before."
Amanda Rivenburg spent her days helping those in need as the associate director of day community opportunities program at Living Resources, an organization that services people with disabilities, according to the Times-Union.
"She was the sweetest," her coworker Deneen Palmateer told the local news organization. "She lights up a room. She had a vibrant smile. You felt a certain friendliness from her."
Investigators continue to investigate what may have caused the crash today. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the limo that had been involved in the crash had previously failed an inspection and shouldn't have been on the road, according to ABC News.
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