Many of the victims killed in Saturday’s limo crash in Schoharie had close ties to Amsterdam, New York, about 25 miles away. Monday night, the city came together for a candlelight vigil and memorial service honoring the 20 people killed.
A crowd filled the walkway of the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Bridge: there to honor the crash victims, many of whom called Amsterdam home. They heard words of scripture from the Reverend Kent McHeard: "We're gathered here today to mourn the tragic deaths, so early and too soon, 20 individuals over in Schoharie. For family members that are here and loved ones, please know as a community, our prayers are with you throughout this journey and throughout this time."
They listened to remarks, words of sorrow and encouragement, from speakers like Congressman Paul Tonko: "Amsterdam is my home and home town. I've always known it to be a loving community. As I gather with you this evening, I see it manifested in a very powerful expression. Look at the bridge, filled with people, the walkway, filled with people. To the family members, know your loved ones are loved by their community. We are crushed with you, we are crushed for you."
State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara also represents the area: “What makes Amsterdam so special is that our community does come together and we see it here tonight once again. My thoughts, my prayers, my deepest sympathies are with the families here tonight and with this entire community as we come together to support one another.”
State Senator George Amedore: "That void that is in your heart right now will be filled. Your strength will be renewed and that peace will come back at some point."
Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Dr. Vicky Ramos: "These are not the circumstances under which I wish we were here tonight. My heart breaks as I think of all the lives that never will be the same. It gives me hope to see us all here, with strength and selflessness, as we all know that words will never ever heal the void in the heart."
Everyone stood, innumerable candles raised in a moment of silence for the victims. Relatives of the dead cried. Again, Reverend McHeard: "And yet those words that says 'even though I walk through the valley in the shadow of death,' that's where we are now, and as a community we are remaining in, but our community of faith tells us that God is with us and He, God, will restore our souls."
The tribute ended with family and friends lining up to sign and leave messages on a large "Amsterdam Strong" memorial banner hanging on the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook bridge. Another vigil was scheduled for Wednesday in Schoharie.