Kaitlyn Tambasco-Assistant News Editor
On Oct. 6, Utica College lost one of its own in Amy Steenburg, an online student completing her master’s degree in healthcare administration.
Steenburg, her sisters, their spouses, other family and friends, their driver and two pedestrians comprised the 20 victims who lost their lives in a fatal limousine crash in Schoharie, N.Y. Reports have indicated that the group Steenburg was traveling with rented the limo from Prestige Limo Company as transportation to Cooperstown — they were planning to celebrate Steenburg’s 30th birthday.
Assistant Professor of Health Education Administration Jamie Cuda had Steenburg as a student. She first heard about the incident from a news alert she received on her phone.
Cuda had nothing but nice things to say about Steenburg as she described her as “being very caring” and “always [seeming] to enjoy life.”
“She was motivated and ambitious and did not shy away from challenges,” Cuda said. “She embraced the mindset that there is no better time than the present and began her master’s studies while working full-time and planning her wedding.”
Cuda pointed out that she was also “very philosophical,” “creative” and “shared her joy of painting and making ceramic pieces.” If Cuda could say one last thing to Steenburg, it would be telling her she made a difference.
“She shared her experiences working with residents in a long-term care facility as well as working for law enforcement on medical neglect and death cases,” Cuda said. “Amy recently transitioned to a new position as a committee advisor for surrogate decision making. Her compassion and ability to help others was evident and shown through her daily activities.”
Cuda shared that after graduation Steenburg was planning on taking the New York State Nursing Home Administrator Licensing Examination and becoming a nursing home administrator.
On the Monday following the crash, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the limo carrying the group failed inspection and that the driver of the vehicle did not have the proper license.
“In my opinion, the owner of this company had no business putting a failed vehicle on the road,” Cuomo said while attending a Columbus Day parade in New York City. “Prestige [Limo Company] has a lot of questions to answer.”
According to a statement released by Prestige Limousine, the company “extends its deepest condolences to the family members and friends of those who tragically lost their lives in the crash.”
State and federal agencies, including the National Transportation Safety Board, are still searching for details of what happened that day, and the company may be prosecuted if found at fault.
Johnstown resident Genevive Aldi knew four of the victims in the crash. Originally from Amsterdam, she attended church with Amy Steenburg and her three sisters, Abby, Mary, and Allison.
Aldi said that out of all the sisters she knew Abby Jackson best as she was only a year behind her in school and took religious education classes with her.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about the whole family,” Aldi said. “The four sisters were just bright, sweet, positive people; always smiling, always friendly, always willing to help.”
Aldi pointed out that she did not stay in touch with Steenburg and her sisters much as adults, with the exception of Jackson. Jackson worked as a special education teacher at Lynch Middle School in Amsterdam, which Aldi said was “the perfect job for her.”
“Just knowing those four bright lights are no longer in this world hurts my heart,” Aldi said. “The fact that their parents, who are among the kindest people I’ve ever met, have to deal with the pain of losing four daughters breaks my heart. The whole situation is absolutely devastating.”
Perth resident Erica Fegley knew Amy Steenburg through a friend and described her as “a diamond in the sky, always shining.”
“I knew Amy, she was such a great person and always was there to help others and she would always have a smile on her face,” Fegley said. “She would always offer to listen if a friend needed someone to talk to.”
Fegley also said Steenburg could “light up anyone’s day” and that she looked up to her.
Patrice Hallock, dean of the School of Health Professions and Education, was in Massachusetts during the time of the accident. She found out about the incident when she called her husband to let her know she was on her way home.
Hallock knew of Steenburg but did not know her personally.
“I guess it’s the same thing that I would say to anybody,” Hallock said. “When you part, let the people you love know that they’re important to you because you just never know.”
Hallock drives on those same roads everyday and saw things that were left at the spot where the limo crashed. From her own experience, Hallock explained that driving down the same road where the crash occurred is dangerous.
“I’ve come down that hill so many times, just thinking about the incline of the hill and how it comes into a ‘T’ and how you have to stop because cars really can’t see cars coming down Route 30,” Hallock said. “It’s a very dangerous junction.”
Hallock learned that Steenburg was a UC student from her brother-in-law, who is an anchor and producer at Mountain Lake PBS. She said he works in Plattsburgh but grew up in Schoharie County.
“He called Monday morning and brought to my attention that many of the victims were graduates of SUNY Plattsburgh,” Hallock said. “He told me his station wasn’t doing a story on it but brought to my attention that Amy Steenburg looked like she had been Amy King and the investigation he had done led him to believe he was one of our students.”
Following the incident, two candlelit vigils were held to honor the lives of the victims. The first one was held on Oct. 8 in the city of Amsterdam, where the majority of the victims were from. The other was held in Schoharie, where the incident took place, on Oct. 10. Both ceremonies brought in a lot of people.
“The healthcare administration faculty and staff are deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life and offer our deepest condolences to Amy’s family and friends as well as the family and friends of the other victims of this devastating accident,” Cuda said.