Hampden Academy grad among victims in fatal New York limo crash

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2018, file photo, a limousine, left, has landed in the woods following a fatal crash in Schoharie, N.Y. (Tom Heffernan Sr. via AP, File)

SCHOHARIE, N.Y. (BDN) -- 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.

[NY State Police identify all limo crash victims]

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.

[Wife of limo driver in NY crash says he had concerns about company's vehicles]

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.

[Four sisters among victims in deadly limo crash]

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.

[Family and friends remember newly married couple killed in deadly limo crash]

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