Mom of Woman Killed in Horrific Limo Crash Alongside Boyfriend Speaks Out: ‘There’s Nothing Worse’

When she heard news about the horrific limousine accident that left 20 dead in upstate New York on Saturday afternoon, Martina Wieblitz Halse desperately tried to contact her daughter, Amanda Halse, who she knew was traveling with a large group in that same area.

Martina and her daughter, Karina Halse, repeatedly texted and called Amanda, but with each message sent and number dialed, their attempts went unanswered.

Then, their worst fears were realized when an investigator appeared at their door.

“I don’t even know what injuries she had,” Martina tells PEOPLE of finding out Amanda, 26, was in the limo when it crashed. “They told me that they took her out of the limousine and put her in an ambulance to go to the hospital and she still had a heartbeat.”

Amanda ultimately died from her injuries, which she suffered as she was celebrating her friend Amy Steenburg’s 30th birthday on October 6. The group of friends were in a limo that failed to stop at a T-intersection in the rural town of Schoharie in upstate New York. The limo flew into a nearby parking lot and crashed into an unoccupied SUV, killing the driver and all 17 passengers. The accident also claimed the lives of two pedestrians, who were struck by a parked SUV after it was slammed into by the limo.

“It’s terrible. I lost my baby. I last saw her the week before on a Saturday,” Martina says. “There’s nothing, nothing worse than this.”

RELATEDCouple Killed in Limo Crash Were ‘Amazing Parents:’ They Were Devoted to Their Kids’

Martina, who is paralyzed, says she she saw a lot of herself in her daughter, Amanda, including her love of arts and crafts. Because of Martina’s condition, Amanda would spend time helping her mother tend to the flowers in her garden. The two had initially planned to go to a fall festival on Sunday, after Amanda returned from her trip with her friends.

“She was way too young ,” Martina says through tears. “She was such a kind person, everybody loved her.”

Amanda also shared a close relationship with her siblings.

“I am hanging in there. Taking it one step at a time,” says Amanda’s sister, Karina. “I feel a sense of strength when I talk about my sister so I believe she is helping me through this, but overall, I feel empty, devastated and just sad.”

During the drive, Amanda had been accompanied by her boyfriend, Patrick Cushing, 31, who was also killed in the crash.

“Patrick was such a passionate and good-hearted person. He had such empathy and kindness,” his brother, Justin Cushing, tells PEOPLE.

Patrick was a gifted athlete and played dodgeball for Team USA, Justin says, but most of all, he deeply loved those closest to him.

“He loved, hugged and cried with his friends and family like their problems were his,” he explains. “ celebrated with those same family and friends like our successes were his personal goals.”

RELATED4 Sisters, Their Husbands, Newlyweds & Parents Among 20 Killed in Tragic Limo Crash

While he was passionate about photography and sports, Patrick was also devoted to his role as a godparent to Adam and Abigail Jackson’s two young daughters, Archer, 4, and 16-month-old Ellie.

“He took it like he was an adopted third parent,” Justin says. “He kept her pictures in his phone to show off like they were his own.”

Adam and Abigail also lost their lives in the crash, which is still under investigation. A GoFundMe page has been set up to provide for their daughters, which has raised more than $ 65,000.

With nearly two dozen people lost in the accident, the pain of the tragedy is felt far and wide. For Justin, who served as best man for Adam in his wedding to Abigail, the devastation is unimaginable.

“I lost my two best friends in this, in my brother and Adam. I lost my cousin in Erin ,” he says. “This was all so hard to write and I’m shaking knowing I’m missing something important to his life.”


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15-Year-Old Allegedly Decapitated Missing Classmate in ‘Horrific, Horrific Murder’

Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino walked out the door of his house on the night of Nov. 18 – and was never seen alive again.

On Saturday, weeks after his disappearance, one of Lee’s classmates at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged with allegedly murdering and decapitating the 16-year-old, PEOPLE confirms.

But a motive in the brutal slaying and the exact nature of the relationship between Lee and the 15-year-old suspect, Mathew Borges, remain unclear.

“This was a horrific, horrific murder,” Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said at a news conference on Saturday. “While it shook the community, we were completely and totally resolved to bring this matter to justice.”

Mathew allegedly stabbed and mutilated Lee’s body so severely that his autopsy took 11 hours, Blodgett told reporters.

Authorities have not said why Mathew allegedly killed and then decapitated the teen, though police claim Mathew confessed afterward. “A witness told investigators that Mathew told them he did something bad,’’ according to a police report obtained by the Boston Globe. “Mathew then told him that he stabbed a kid and cut his head off.’’

A woman walking her dog on Thursday discovered Lee’s body on a street near the Merrimack River, according to authorities. His head was found about 50 feet from his body, The Eagle Tribune reports.

On Monday, Mathew pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Lawrence District Court, Carrie Kimball Monahan, a spokeswoman for the district attorney, tells PEOPLE. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

“ was ordered held without bail,” Monahan says. He is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 10 for a probable cause hearing.

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Mathew’s age and murder charge “automatically” mean he will be tried as an adult, Monahan says.

Authorities are unclear about how the two teens knew each other, she says. “We don’t know what type of relationship they had,” she says. “We don’t know if they were friends. We just know that they went to the same school.”

Lee’s family, whom PEOPLE could not immediately reach, reportedly said Mathew had only come to their house once.

On Nov. 18 — the day of Lee’s disappearance — the two teens left Lee’s home at about 5:40 p.m. and headed to the nearby Merrimack River, according to authorities.

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Lee’s family later reported him missing when he failed to return home. They told reporters they’re upset because they feel police considered this a runaway case and failed to do everything they could to find him, The Boston Herald reports.

“I do want to ask a question, with all due respect, to the mayor, to the chief of police, to every police officer, detective, in our police department,’’ one relative told reporters, according to the Globe. “If it was their kid, would they have … waited two weeks to look for him?”

The family’s criticism was echoed by similar statements made recently by a Lawrence police officer to the Globe.

The Lawrence Police Department has not responded to these complaints, and it could not immediately be reached for comment.


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