First responders of limo crash receive standing ovation at vigil

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SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (WBNG) — When Bill Wither’s “Lean On Me,” was played on the piano at Wednesday night’s vigil at the Schoharie County High School, that’s what many among the crowd of 1,000 did, lean on each other.

“The most we can do is we can all come together as one and try and support one another,” said Schoharie Fire Chief Marty Pierce.

Pierce has been in this line of work for more than 30 years, but Saturday’s crash was the worst he’s “ever seen.”

The images of the scene on Saturday, which Chief Pierce described as “horrifying,” are still ingrained in the minds of him and the first responders that answered that call.

“It’s something no one ever expects to see and it’s something nobody should see,” said Pierce.

That’s why many of those who were on the deadly scene from Saturday into Sunday are getting help they need in handling such a large loss of life.

“They go home and look at their family. That’s their outreach. So we’re not only looking at our volunteers, but we’re also making sure their families get the proper help that they need as well,” said Pierce.

It’s especially important because even during this emotional time, the volunteers of the Schoharie Fire Department are still on call.

“We still have to continue and maintain 24-hour emergency services for our community,” Pierce explained.

About 200 seats, reserved for first responders, stood at the vigil behind family members who lost loved ones in Saturday’s crash. First responders stood up from their chairs as their agency was called, followed by a standing ovation from the victims’ loved ones and community members.

Many of the first reposnders fought back tears as the crowd showed its appreciation. After the vigil some of the victim’s relatives thanked those on scene that night for their efforts.

Crisis response dogs were on hand as well as members of the Red Cross who continue to offer their emotional support to those who need to talk about the heartache they are going through.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul was among the speakers who said Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff owes it to these New York families to find out how this vehicle was able to operate on the road after the past it had.

RELATED: UPDATE: Lawyer says limo service operator isn’t guilty

12 News spoke with families who lost relatives on Saturday, including the Steenburg Family who would’ve celebrated Amanda Steenburg’s 30th birthday on Wednesday. Steenburg, her husband, and brother-in-law all died in the crash.

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Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz

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