October 19, 2018
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Hampden Academy grad among victims in fatal New York limo crash

Hans Pennink | AP
Hans Pennink | AP
Family members and friends gather Monday for a candlelight vigil memorial at Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge in Amsterdam, New York. The memorial honored 20 people who died in Saturday's fatal limousine crash in Schoharie, New York,

One of the 20 victims in a horrific limousine crash in upstate New York over the weekend was a 2002 Hampden Academy graduate.

Michael Ukaj, 34, was one of 17 passengers in a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine that sped through a stop sign on a rural road 25 miles west of Albany and slammed into a parked SUV on Saturday. Two pedestrians and the limo driver also were killed, in addition to all passengers. The driver was not licensed to drive a limousine.

[Limo driver’s family believes he was given an unsafe vehicle]

The crash has been described by the National Transportation Safety Board as the deadliest U.S. transportation accident since a 2009 plane crash in Buffalo, New York, killed 50 people.

Ukaj, the son of Kyle and Mary Ashton of Winterport, graduated from Hampden Academy in 2002. He later enlisted in the military, joining the U.S. Marine Corps and serving as a combat engineer in Iraq. He moved to Caroga Lake, New York, after leaving the military.

A family friend of Ukaj has set up a fundraiser to assist the family in paying funeral expenses. As of midday Wednesday, it had raised nearly $5,000.

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