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Sisters, brothers, friends and family — lives cut short on a fall afternoon

Among those killed in the crash of a limousine in upstate Schoharie County were newlyweds, longtime friends, parents of young children and siblings.

Relatives of Matthew Coons and Amanda Halse were devastated following their deaths in a weekend crash in upstate New York. The two were killed along with 18 other people when a limousine they were riding in lost control on Saturday. (Credit: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The 17 friends and family members were enjoying a festive fall Saturday upstate when their lives, along with that of their limousine driver, came to an abrupt end.

Four victims were sisters celebrating the birthday of the youngest. The dead included military veterans, former college athletes and married couples with young children. Two couples among the victims had celebrated weddings in June. One of the grooms' brothers, also his best man, and the father of two, died. 

On Tuesday, State Police released the names of all 20 victims, who included two pedestrians struck by the limousine. 

An outpouring of support and stories about those who died have flooded social media. 

The following is a glimpse into the lives of some of those killed:

Axel Steenburg and Amy Steenburg

Axel Steenburg, 29, married Amy King, also 29, on June 30, according to their Facebook pages. The couple owned a home they shared with their bull mastiff, Lady, and enjoyed traveling and visiting new breweries, according to their wedding website. 

Axel Steenburg earned his associate of arts and science degree in electrical and electronic technology from Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Johnstown, according to his LinkedIn page, and studied electrical engineering and nanotechnology at Excelsior College in Albany. He worked in upstate Malta at GlobalFoundries as a senior technology and development technician, according to his Facebook page.

Amy Steenburg was set to turn 30 on Oct. 10, according to her Facebook page. She and her three sisters, Abigail, Mary and Allison, all of whom died in the crash, grew up in Chazy Lake in the Adirondacks before moving to Amsterdam, New York, their aunt, Barbara Douglas of Dannemora told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. 

She attended the State University of New York at Plattsburgh from 2006 to 2011, earning her bachelor's degree in psychology, college president John Ettling said in a statement. She played for the women's soccer team at the university for three years, he said. 

On Oct. 3 Amy Steenburg posted a note on her Facebook wall about her husband: “I love you more than words can say! You are such an amazing man and entertain all my crazy ideas. Even when I move a couch just to move it back to the original place. Thank you for being so kind and loving xo #justbecause #husband.”

Abigail “Abby” Jackson and Adam Jackson

Abigail and Adam Jackson, both 34, lived in Amsterdam with their daughters Archer, 4, and Elle, 16 months, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the children by family friend Sarah Maltzman.

“Adam and Abby were amazing parents to these girls and taken much too soon,” Maltzman wrote on the page. “While families will step in and provide loving care for these girls, there will be expenses that we can help with during this time when we otherwise feel so helpless.”

Abigail Jackson, Amy Steenburg's sister, taught in the Greater Amsterdam School District. On Sunday, the district posted on its website that grief counseling would be available. 

The couple married in September 2010, according to Abigail Jackson's Facebook page.

Adam Jackson worked as a deputy commissioner for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, according to the county’s website. He also attended SUNY Plattsburgh from 2005 to 2006, according to the university. 

Rich Steenburg

Rich Steenburg, 34, and the brother of Axel Steenburg, also worked at GlobalFoundries, as a technology and development tech, according to his LinkedIn page. 

A spokeswoman for GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor manufacturing company in Malta, confirmed that two employees were killed in the crash, though she would not release their names.

“The entire GF community is extremely saddened by this incident and we are working closely with the families to provide comprehensive support,” spokeswoman Laurie Kelly said in an email. “Grief counseling is available to team members on-site . . . on an ongoing basis as needed.”

A GoFundMe page set up by a family member had raised thousands for Rich and Axel Steenburg's funeral expenses as of Monday afternoon.

He served as best man in Axel and Amy Steenburg's wedding, according to their wedding website. He attended Fulton-Montgomery Community College and earned his associate degree in electrical technology, according to his LinkedIn page.

Rich Steenburg is survived by his wife, Kim, a daughter, 10, and a stepson, 14, according to his wife's Facebook page and a New York Times report. 

Mary (King) Dyson and Robert Dyson 

Robert Dyson married Mary King in 2009 and they are survived by a son, according to a report from the Daily Mail. Both 33, they graduated from Clarkson University in 2007, according to the university.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the King and Dyson families. Clarkson is a tight-knit community. All losses like this cause us to come together and reflect on the friendships we've made," the university said in a message posted on its website.

Mary Dyson graduated with a bachelor of science degree in engineering, according to her LinkedIn page.

She was vice president for Upstate Construction Services Inc., according to the page, and served as an engineer officer in the U.S. Army from May 2007 to March 2011, and also had served as a project engineer for the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Robert Dyson earned his bachelor's degree in engineering and management from Clarkson, according to his LinkedIn account. 

He was a senior estimator at The Stebbins Engineering & Manufacturing Co. in Watertown, according to the page. From 2003 to 2007 he worked as a correction officer for the Seneca County Sheriff's Department, according to the page.

Allison King

Allison King, 31, was the maid of honor in her sister Amy's June wedding. She worked at Hill & Markes Inc. in Ballston Spa as an inside sales representative, according to her LinkedIn page.  

She attended SUNY Plattsburgh from 2005 to 2010, earning her bachelor's degree in speech communications, Ettling said.

"This is shocking and tragic," Ettling's statement said. "I grieve with their surviving family members and all who knew them."

Tom King, 35, told the New York Post his four sisters were very close. He described them to the Post as "The Four Musketeers."

A fundraiser set up on Facebook for the four sisters had raised more than $110,000 as of Monday afternoon.

Erin McGowan and Shane McGowan

Erin McGowan, 35, obtained degrees from the College of Saint Rose in Albany and SUNY Polytechnic Institute, according to her LinkedIn page. For the past four years she had worked as a health care information technician at St. Mary's Hospital in Troy, New York.

Shane McGowan graduated from Sage College in Albany where he was a member of the golf team in 2011 and 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. He worked as a hearing instrument specialist at Miracle-Ear in Albany.

The couple married in June 2018 at St. Mary’s Church in Amsterdam, according to her Facebook page. Family and friends described the couple as a "dynamic duo" that were saving for a home and had big plans for their lives together.

Matthew Coons and Savannah Bursese

Coons, 27, of Fultonville, served in the Army as an infantryman from 2008 through 2012, according to his Facebook page. Coons, who served as groomsman in the Steenburg wedding, also was a certified personal trainer at National Academy of Sports Medicine, based in Chandler, Arizona.

His girlfriend, Savannah Bursese, 24, of Broadalbin, attended Hartwick College in Oneonta, where she played volleyball, according to the school’s website. A GoFundMe page for Bursese, created by her sorority sisters in Phi Sigma Phi, has raised thousands. 

"Savannah was a loving daughter, friend, girlfriend, and sister," a post on the GoFundMe page said. "There are no words that can heal the friends and family of Savannah's pain as a single moment has now changed their lives forever."

Amanda Rivenburg 

Rivenburg,  of Albany, was the associate director of the day community opportunities program at Living Resources, an Albany-based group that provides services to the disabled, according to her Facebook page.

She graduated from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in social work, according to the college. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to all who knew and loved her," Ettling said in a statement. 

She was a former supervisor at Price Chopper Supermarkets, according to the social media page. 

"My heart is broken!!" wrote her mother, Donna Floyd Rivenburg on her Facebook page. "Thank you to everyone that has called, text, or messaged me. I appreciate all the kind words and prayers that everyone has sent!! RIP my baby girl. Mommy loves you until we meet again!"

Patrick Cushing and Amanda Halse

Cushing, 30, of Amsterdam, worked for the State Senate’s Technology Services unit based in Albany and had been dating Halse for about three years, his father said.

“Patrick was a kind and gentle soul who loved his family, his friends and his girlfriend Amanda,” said his father, Kevin Cushing of Saratoga Springs. “He gave 100 percent to everything that he did. Every day was a gift to be just be in his life.”

Patrick Cushing was a member of the United States dodgeball team and represented the country in the 2016 World Cup in Britain and the 2018 World Cup at Madison Square Garden. He had played the sport for about a decade, Kevin Cushing said.

"Cushing proved himself one of the most agile and dominant players in the world," the U.S. dodgeball team said in a Facebook post. "His no-holds-barred competitive spirit made him one of the most exciting and entertaining players to watch. Pat’s passion for the sport and always present laughter were infectious to those lucky enough to play alongside or against him."

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) called Cushing an "invaluable member" of the Technology Services unit. "He was an extraordinary employee and a wonderful young man who was loved by all," Flanagan said in a statement. "He will be greatly missed by his Senate family."

Kevin Cushing said his son and Halse were "inseparable. They were a wonderful couple. Patrick loved her.”

Amanda Halse, 26, of Troy, graduated from SUNY Oswego and worked as a waitress at Shaker Pointe in Watervliet, according to her sister, Karina Halse, 21, of Lake George.

“My big sister was a kind and compassionate person,” Halse said. "She cared about everyone and always made sure people were having a great time. She lived life to the fullest.”

Halse said her sister was like a "second mother" when they were growing up and the family is heartbroken.

“We are sitting together, thinking about Amanda,” she said. “There’s a lot of crying. But we are so grateful for the time we had and that she was in our lives.”

Scott Lisinicchia

The driver of the limousine, Lisinicchia was originally from Ballston Spa and lived in Lake George, family members said. 

"I'm at a loss for words!," wrote his wife, Kim Lisinicchia, on Facebook. "I lost my best friend to a car accident yesterday. I wont be on Facebook for a while . . . please keep our family in prayer! Love you Scott . . . R.I.P."

A GoFundMe page for the family has raised hundreds. 

"Words can not express the grief and sorrow that we, his family and friends are experiencing," the GoFundMe page said. "The entire community is shocked and devastated with the news of this terrible accident and Scott’s untimely passing. We will miss him beyond measure. Scott’s family appreciates the love and support to help with his unexpected final expenses."

Brian Hough and James Schnurr
Hough, 46, an assistant professor of geology at SUNY Oswego, and his father-in-law were the two pedestrians killed in the crash, according Facebook posts by relatives and media reports. SUNY Oswego officials said Monday that Hough died in an accident Saturday, but didn’t say how he died.
The college’s statement said he arrived on campus in 2016 as a visiting professor. SUNY Oswego President Deborah Stanley called Hough “a dedicated faculty member who inspired his students to learn and understand at a deep level, and whose contributions were often sought by his colleagues.”
Hough’s mother, Arta Hough, told the New York Post that his father-in-law, James Schnurr, 71, was also killed. Police have said two people standing in a store parking lot were among the victims.
Hough is survived by his wife and their 8-year-old son, said Arta Hough, who lost another son to cancer four years ago. She described Brian as a “great father, great son.”
“He loved teaching, he loved working with students,” she said.

Michael Ukaj
Ukaj, a former Marine from Johnstown who served a tour in Iraq, died on his 34th birthday, his mother told the Times Union of Albany. Mary Aston  said her son joined the Marines at 17, had post-traumatic stress disorder and was honorably discharged because of a medical condition. He was living at his maternal grandparents’ home near Amsterdam, she said.
“He was fixing up my parents’ house and enjoying his life,” Ashton said.
She said she had called her son on his birthday but couldn’t reach him.
“He was just such a good boy,” Ashton  said. “My baby is gone.”

Rachael Cavosie

Facebook posts by relatives say Cavosie, 30, of Waterford, was known as “Rach” to all her cousins. One of them referred to her as “a soul that touched so many lives.”
The Times Union reports she is survived by her parents, one sister and two brothers. One of her cousins from the Albany area is raising funeral funds on GoFundMe.

With The Associated Press

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