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'There Are Images You Can't Forget:' New York Limo Crash First Responders Speak Out

The crash, deemed the United States' worst transportation disaster in nine years, claimed the lives of 20 people.

By Jill Sederstrom

As another day of memorial services were observed, the first responders of a horrific limo crash in upstate New York that claimed the lives of 20 people say they are still haunted by the scenes they witnessed a little more than a week ago.

"There are images you can't forget...You can't erase from your memory," Central Bridge Fire Department Chief Brian Baker told the Times-Union, a local Albany newspaper, on Sunday.

Baker said that the emergency personnel who arrived at the intersection of Route 30 South and Route 30A in Schoharie, New York, on Oct. 6 were in a state of “basic sorrow,” adding that many have suffered through sleepless nights as memories of that day constantly replay in their heads.

The crash, which claimed the lives of four siblings, several newlyweds and at least six children, among others, was the United States’ worst transportation catastrophe in nine years, according to the Times-Union.

All 17 passengers and the driver were killed, as well as two pedestrians standing in the parking lot.

"We never knew them but we feel like we're close at heart now," Baker told the paper through tears. "It's hard to explain."

A group of firefighters and EMTs have even created a group texting chain to help each other through the grief.

"Each time you can get together and discuss these things, especially with people who were there, it helps. You hear you're not the only one dealing with it. It takes the edge off when people listen," Baker said, according to the Times-Union.

Schoharie County Sheriff Ron Stevens said that although first responders may do "superhuman" work, they still struggle with the same issues that everyone else does.

"The first responders did everything they could and that is probably what hurts most," he told the paper. "We do this to save lives."

Hundreds of people packed the pews of an old brick church in Amsterdam on Saturday at the service for eight of the 20 people killed a week before.

“The question that is in the hearts of so many is: Why?” The Rev. O. Robert DeMartinis told hundreds of mourners. “Why did these 20 individuals have to be taken from us so quickly and so unexpectedly?”

The following day, the Senate's top Democrat called on federal regulators to formulate new safety standards for the vehicles.

Sen. Chuck Schumer pointed to glaring gaps in safety data and singled out the National Transportation Safety Board, which he said hasn't thoroughly investigated a limousine crash in three years.

"The sad fact here is that right now everyone is talking about limo safety when we could have been studying it for the past few years," Schumer said at a news conference. "The NTSB knows they need to fix this situation so we can have as much information as possible available."

He called on the NTSB to investigate every stretch limo crash that has occurred in the U.S. and use the data to make recommendations for safety standards that would then have to be implemented by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.

The driver of the limo, identified as Scott Lisinicchia, not only did not have a proper license, but his vehicle had failed an inspection a month before the devastating crash, Oxygen.com reported previously.

Memorial services for the deceased were held again on Monday, according to ABC News 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo Credit: Getty]

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