The Carrollton bus collision was one of the most deadly bus disasters in United States history. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the
About 11:00 p. m. EDT on Saturday May 14, 1988, Larry Mahoney, a drunk driver in a pickup truck traveling in the wrong direction on an interstate highway in a rural, unincorporated area of Carroll County, Kentucky collided head-on with a gasoline-powered former school bus which was in use as a church bus. The Eastern Time Zone ( ET) of the Western Hemisphere falls mostly along the east coast of North America and the west coast of South America Events 1264 - Battle of Lewes: Henry III of England is captured in France making Simon de Montfort the Year 1988 ( MCMLXXXVIII) was a Leap year starting on Friday (link displays 1988 Gregorian calendar) Drunk driving is the act of operating and/or driving a Motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or Drugs to the degree that mental and The Dwight D Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, commonly called the Interstate Highway System (or simply the Interstate System) Carroll County is a County located in the US state of Kentucky. A school bus is a Bus used to transport Children and Adolescents to and from School and school events The initial crash was exacerbated when the gasoline from the ruptured fuel tank of the bus ignited immediately after impact, which also blocked the front loading door. Difficulties encountered by the victims attempting to evacuate the crowded bus quickly in the smoke and darkness through the only other designated exit, the rear emergency door, resulted in the death of 27 people and injured 34 of 67 passengers. Six passengers escaped without significant injury. Mahoney sustained minor injuries.
In the aftermath of the disaster, several family members of victims became active leaders of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and one became national president (Karolyn Nunnallee). Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, is a Non-profit organization that seeks to stop Drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving and Karolyn Nunnallee was the seventh president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD serving 1998-1999 MADD has helped efforts to tighten standards for drinking drivers and alcohol-awareness. There are strong indications that the families and others in MADD have made a difference since 1988. According to the Firehouse. com website, with MADD's significant influence, all 50 states have now passed laws making it a criminal offense to drive with a designated level of alcohol, regardless of whether the driver is impaired or not. MADD then successfully lobbied to lower that original level of . 10% down to . 08%, and members are actively working to lower it even further. 
The standards for both operation and equipment for school buses and similar buses were improved in Kentucky and many other states, notably increased emergency exits, better structural integrity, and less volatile fuel. Other safety issues remains to be addressed. Flammability of materials used in bus seating must also be factored with cost, durability and performance of the foam in impact situations. Another unresolved issue is the lack of requirements for occupant restraints such as seat belts in larger capacity school buses. A seat belt, sometimes called a safety belt, is a Safety harness designed to secure the occupant of a Vehicle against harmful movement that may result from Some advocates find it ironic that use of the lap seat belts currently available would have likely reduced the number of the 40 occupants who managed to escape the bus in the short time available during the Carrollton incident.
On Interstate 71, the crash site is marked with a highway sign erected by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC). Interstate 71 (I-71 is an Interstate Highway in the Great Lakes/Midwestern region of the United States. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (also mistakenly known as the Kentucky Department of Transportation is Kentucky 's state-funded department charged with building and maintaining Even twenty years later, memorial items such as crosses and flower arrangements are placed at the site by families and friends. As of November 2007, the Carrollton crash remains the worst bus crash in U. S. history tied for fatalities with the Prestonsburg bus disaster which occurred 30 years earlier in Floyd County, Kentucky in 1958. Floyd County is a County located in the US state of Kentucky.
On May 14, 1998, a youth group consisting of mostly teenagers (most of whom attended North Hardin High School) and four adults from First Assembly of God in Radcliff, Kentucky boarded their church activity bus and headed to Kings Island theme park (north of Cincinnati, Ohio, about 170 miles from Radcliff). Events 1264 - Battle of Lewes: Henry III of England is captured in France making Simon de Montfort the Year 1998 ( MCMXCVIII) was a Common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar) North Hardin High School, located in Radcliff, Kentucky, boasts a student population of approximately 1500 The World Assemblies of God Fellowship, or Assemblies of God for short is the world's largest Pentecostal denomination with over 283413 churches and outstations Radcliff is a city in Hardin County, Kentucky, United States. Kings Island is a 364-acre (15 km² Theme park located in the city of Mason, in Warren County Ohio, USA. Theme park is the generic term for a collection of rides and other Entertainment attractions assembled for the purpose of entertaining a large group A mile is a unit of Length, usually used to measure Distance, in a number of different systems including Imperial units United States The group included church members and their invited guests. As everyone arrived early that Saturday morning, those wanting to go on the trip had grown to more than originally anticipated. The church's principal pastor (who stayed behind) restricted the ridership to the legal limit of 66 persons plus the driver.
The church bus was a conventional type body-on-chassis school bus model. A school bus is a Bus used to transport Children and Adolescents to and from School and school events The 1977 Ford B-700 school bus chassis was equipped with a Superior school bus body, a model with 11 rows of 39 in. Ford Motor Company is an American Multinational corporation and the world's fourth largest automaker based on Worldwide vehicle sales, following Superior Coach was once a School bus body and Professional car manufacturer but today it focuses on building Hearses and is located in Lima in (99 cm) wide seats on either side of a central aisle 12 in. (30 cm) wide. The bus was ordered by the Kentucky Department of Schools in 1976, as part of an order of over 600 units for districts throughout the state, including 3 for Meade County.
The chassis was manufactured at Ford's expansive Kentucky Truck Plant located outside Louisville and then was shipped to Lima, Ohio, where the body was installed at Sheller Globe Corporation's Superior Coach Company. Lima (ˈlaɪmə is a city in the US state of Ohio and the County seat of Allen County. It was certified as a school bus with an effective build date of March 23, 1977, which is when the chassis began production, as required by federal regulations. Both the vehicle, defined as a school bus, and the build date were important legal distinctions. A school bus is a Bus used to transport Children and Adolescents to and from School and school events March 23 was just nine days before fuel tank guard frames and greater access to emergency exits and a number of other improved safety standards were required by revised federal regulations on all school buses built for use in the U. S. with beginning production dates on or after April 1, 1977.
The completed bus was delivered in time for use during the 1977-78 school year, and served ten years. The church acquired the used school bus as surplus from the Meade County, Kentucky School District, and it had been owned by the church for about one year. A school bus is a Bus used to transport Children and Adolescents to and from School and school events Meade County is a County located in the US state of Kentucky. School districts are a form of Special-purpose district which serves to operate the local public primary and secondary schools The bus had successfully made the same round-trip to King's Island in July, 1987, was used daily for short local moves on school days, and had made several other long trips. It was checked over regularly by mechanically-inclined church members, including a civilian motor pool supervisor from nearby Fort Knox. Fort Knox is a United States Army post in Kentucky south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown. Two new tires of a good commercial quality had been installed a week before the ill-fated trip, and front end suspension and steering parts examined at that time. From all indications, the bus was in good condition mechanically on May 14, 1988.
On the trip, the bus was driven by John Pearman, a part-time associate pastor of the church who was a local court clerk. A pastor is an official person within a Protestant group of people and related to the positions of Priest or Bishop within the Anglican, Roman Catholic The group left the church early that morning and traveled uneventfully to the park. They spent the whole day and early evening at Kings Island, then boarded the bus and began traveling out of Ohio and back into Northern Kentucky toward Radcliff. The term Northern Kentucky generally refers to the three northernmost counties in Kentucky. After about an hour, they stopped to fill the 60-gallon (227-litre) fuel tank with gasoline, then resumed the trip southward. The hour (symbol h) is a unit of Time. It is not an SI unit but is accepted for use with the SI A gallon is a measure of Volume. It is in current use in the United States and still has limited use in many other English-speaking countries The litre or liter (see spelling differences) is a unit of Volume. A fuel tank is safe container for flammable liquids and typically part of an Engine system in which the Fuel is stored and propelled (fuel pump or released (pressurized
Just before 11:00 p. m. , while heading south on Interstate 71 outside of Carrollton, Kentucky, the bus collided almost head-on with a black Toyota pickup truck which was traveling the wrong way (north in the southbound lanes) at a high speed on a curved stretch of the highway. Interstate 71 (I-71 is an Interstate Highway in the Great Lakes/Midwestern region of the United States. Carrollton is a city in Carroll County, Kentucky, United States, at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers (pronounced) is a Multinational corporation headquartered in Japan, and is currently the world's largest Automaker. A pickup truck is a light Motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area which is almost always separated from the cab to allow for chassis flex when carrying or pulling The small truck was driven by Larry Wayne Mahoney, a 34 year-old factory worker who was intoxicated. Driving under the influence of alcohol ( driving while intoxicated, drunk driving, drinking and driving, drink-driving) or other drugs
The right front of the pickup truck hit the right front of the bus, breaking off the bus's suspension and driving the leaf spring backward into the gas tank mounted behind an exterior panel but outside the heavier frame, just behind the step well for the front door rendering the door inoperable. Originally called laminated or carriage spring, a leaf spring is a simple form of spring, commonly used for the suspension in Leaking gasoline from the punctured tank quickly caught fire. As the seat covers and the highly flammable polyurethane foam padding ignited, the temperature inside the bus rose to an estimated 2,000 degrees and a thick cloud of noxious smoke enveloped the area from the ceiling down to seat level within a minute or two. A polyurethane, commonly abbreviated PU, is any Polymer consisting of a chain of organic units joined by urethane links
Nobody aboard the bus was seriously injured by the actual collision. However, the primary front loading door of the bus was jammed shut by impact damage and blocked by the fire which began immediately thereafter.
Almost all of the occupants of the bus began trying to exit through the single rear emergency door. Exceptions were the driver, one chaperone who was said by many survivors to have tried to douse the flames with the bus' fire extinguisher, and another chaperone, a small-bodied woman who managed to squeeze out a 9 in. A chaperone (or occasionally chaperon) is an adult who accompanies or supervises one or more young unmarried men or women during social occasions usually with the specific x 24 in. (23 cm x 61 cm) window opening on the left side immediately adjacent to her seating position near the front. Of the four adults aboard the bus, she was the only survivor. Attempts by some of the other passengers to break or kick out any of the split-sash type side windows were unsuccessful.
According to the NTSB investigation, more than 60 persons trying to reach the only available exit—the rear emergency door—created a crush of bodies in the 12 in. (30 cm) aisle. Many passengers found themselves unable to move. A beverage cooler which had been earlier placed in the aisle near row 10 (of 11 rows of seats) further exacerbated this problem.
Passersby and some of the escaped passengers helped to extract immobilized children through the rear door, and help them to ground level about 3 ft (1 m) below. However, fire soon engulfed the entire interior of the bus, trapping the 27 people remaining aboard. At that point, no more passengers were accessible from outside the bus. Emergency vehicles had not yet arrived.
After fire, rescue, and police authorities responded to the scene, treated and transported survivors, and extinguished the fire, a crane was used to load the bus onto a flatbed truck that transported the bus and those persons killed to the National Guard Armory in Carrollton. For the National Guard of a State and other countries' National Guard see National Guard. There, emergency crews went through the interior of the bus seat by seat to find and remove bodies. Many bodies were found facing the only exit, the rear door. The coroner later determined that none of the bus occupants suffered broken bones or mortal injuries from the crash impact; all had died from the fire and smoke.
Among the bus survivors, one person's leg from just below the knee had to be amputated, and about ten others suffered disfiguring burns. Only 6 bus passengers were uninjured and virtually all suffered varied degrees of emotional trauma and survivor guilt syndrome. Survivor guilt, otherwise known as Survivor syndrome, is the mental condition that results from the appraisal that a person has done wrong by surviving traumatic events such When authorities were able to tally the counts from the various hospitals and the bodies aboard the bus, and autopsies had been conducted, it was determined that 27 persons had been killed by the fire, and another 34 aboard the bus injured, as well as the truck driver who was also injured. As of November 2006, this collision had the highest death and injury toll of any school bus crash in United States history; an accident near Prestonsburg, Kentucky in 1958 also claimed 27 lives, but not as many additional injuries. Prestonsburg is a city in and the County seat of Floyd County, Kentucky, United States.
The National Transportation Safety Board responded, conducted an investigation and issued a report on March 28, 1989. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB is an independent U Events 37 - Roman Emperor Caligula accepts the titles of the Principate, entitled to him by the Senate. Year 1989 ( MCMLXXXIX) was a Common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar)
When fire first broke out immediately after the collision, bus driver John Pearman tried to put it out with a small fire extinguisher while passengers began to evacuate through the center rear emergency door, squeezing through the narrow opening between the two rear seats and jumping approximately 3 feet to the ground. A fire extinguisher is an Active fire protection device used to extinguish or control small fires often in emergency situations The front door was blocked by collision damage, and there were no emergency exit windows or roof hatches, as found on commercial buses and some school buses of the time. Only one adult, a woman who was of small stature, managed to escape through a nine-inch opening side window. When she looked back up from the ground, the window opening was filled with flames. The other three adults aboard, including Pearman, died.
Survivors stated that after emptying the small fire extinguisher, Pearman helped some of the many children find their way down the narrow and dark aisle to the only practical way out of the smoke-filled bus. Several older boys attempted to kick out side windows without success. A pileup of passengers formed in and adjacent to the twelve inch aisle leading to the rear door, which was partially blocked by seat backs from the last row and a cooler stored in the aisle near row 10.
Many of those who made it to the area adjacent to rear door were wedged in so tightly that passersby helped pull children out from the human jam at the rear emergency door by force. However, within four minutes or less, the entire bus was on fire, and soon the exodus of passengers stopped. At that point, the passersby who had stopped to help could not reach those still aboard due to the raging fire, and turned their efforts to tending to the crowd of 40 stunned and mostly injured survivors.
A contributing factor to the crash itself and the severity seemed to be loopholes between the laws and procedures for a school bus and those involving the same vehicle after it was released from school service, but continued to be used for transporting passengers in non-school use. A school bus is a Bus used to transport Children and Adolescents to and from School and school events (Had the bus been built new in March 1977 for the non-school use such as a church activity bus, the applicable federal motor vehicle standards in place at that time would have required it to have been built with more emergency exits than were required for school buses). One of the NTSB recommendations after the Carrollton Bus Disaster was that school buses have no fewer emergency exits than required of non-school buses.
Some states also require that the usually different seating capacities for children and adults be displayed near the service door of school buses and non-school buses. Most states consider secondary school (middle and high school) age students to be adults with regards to the space occupied in bus seats and aisles by their bodies.
Among the many media agencies which provided thorough coverage, which has extended even to the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the disaster, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Kentucky received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for General News Reporting for its coverage. The Courier-Journal, nicknamed the "C-J", is the main Newspaper for the city of Louisville Kentucky, USA
Following the NTSB report — and much sooner in many instances — many federal, state, and local agencies and bus manufacturers changed regulations, vehicle features, and operating practices.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a grassroots organization, worked both before and after the Carrollton crash to reduce the hazards created by drunk (or drinking) drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, is a Non-profit organization that seeks to stop Drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving and For other meanings see Grass roots (disambiguation. A grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a Political movement Two mothers of Carrollton victims became national president and vice president of the organization.
There was considerable civil litigation. In law a lawsuit is a civil action brought before a Court in which the party commencing the action the Plaintiff, seeks a legal or equitable remedy Ford Motor Company, Sheller-Globe Corporation, and others eventually contributed to settlements with all victims and/or their families. Ford Motor Company is an American Multinational corporation and the world's fourth largest automaker based on Worldwide vehicle sales, following Sheller-Globe Corporation was a US auto parts manufacturer and industrial conglomerate based in Toledo Ohio.
The collision and its aftermath, including efforts of some of the families to obtain more than financial settlements, were chronicled by author James S. Kunen in his 1994 book Reckless Disregard: Corporate Greed, Government Indifference, and the Kentucky School Bus Crash.
The NTSB determined "the probable cause of the collision between the pickup truck and the church activity bus was the alcohol-impaired condition of the pickup truck driver who, operated his vehicle opposite to the direction of traffic flow on an interstate highway. "
"Contributing to the severity of the accident was the puncture of the bus fuel tank and ensuing fire in the bus, the partial blockage by the rear bench seats of the area leading to the rear emergency door which impeded rapid passenger egress, and the flammability of the materials in the bus seat cushions. "
"The safety issues discussed in the report include:
Mahoney, was a repeat drunk-driving offender. He survived, sustaining only minor injuries. His blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was . Blood alcohol content or blood alcohol concentration (abbreviated BAC) is the concentration of alcohol in a person's Blood. 24 percent — substantially more than the 1988 Kentucky legal limit of . 10. Mahoney had no memory of the crash and learned of the collision after waking in the hospital the next day.
He was sentenced to imprisonment for 16 years after a jury of the Carroll Circuit Court, under Indictment No. 88-CR-27, convicted him of 27 counts of manslaughter in the second degree, 16 counts of assault in the second degree, 27 counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree, and one count of driving while under the influence of intoxicants. Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being in a manner considered by law as less culpable than Murder. On appeal, in Case No. 1988-CA-1635, Judge Anthony M. Wilhoit of the Kentucky Court of Appeals reversed Mahoney's conviction for drunk driving on the grounds that it constituted double jeopardy under the Kentucky Constitution, ruling that the 27 counts of manslaughter in the second degree subsumed the drunk driving conviction. Double jeopardy (non bis in idem is a Procedural defense (and in many countries such as the United States, Canada, Mexico and India The court ruled that, under Kentucky law, the elements of drunk driving were substantially similar to those of manslaughter. This was a somewhat ironic result because it meant that Mahoney's driver's license could be reinstated, even during his imprisonment. The Kentucky Supreme Court subsequently reversed this line of reasoning in another case, Justice v. Commonwealth, 987 S. W. 2d 306 (Ky. Dec 17, 1998). On May 6, 1992, the Kentucky Supreme Court denied review of Mahoney's appeal in Case No. 1992-SC-98.
At the Kentucky State Reformatory, Mahoney worked in the medium-security facility as a janitor. For the Scrubs character see Janitor (Scrubs A janitor is a person who takes care of a building such as a School, Office He earned his GED high school equivalency diploma and participated in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs. General Educational Development (or GED) tests are a group of five tests which (when passed certifies that the taker has American or Canadian High High school is the name used in some parts of the world (in particular Scotland, North America and Australia) to describe an institution A diploma (from Greek δίπλωµα diploma, meaning "folded paper" is a Certificate or Deed issued by an educational institution Alcoholics Anonymous ( AA) is an informal meeting society for recovering and recovered alcoholics, with the stated purpose to help its members "to stay sober and Narcotics Anonymous ( NA) is a Twelve-step program of recovery from Drug addiction, modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous. Described by authorities as a model prisoner, Mahoney reduced his incarceration by six years with good behavior, known under Kentucky law as "good time" credit. He declined the Kentucky Parole Board's parole recommendation and served out his sentence, before leaving the prison in La Grange, on September 1, 1999, having served 10 years and 11 months. La Grange is a city in Oldham County, Kentucky, United States. Events 462 - Possible start of first Byzantine indiction cycle. Year 1999 ( MCMXCIX) was a Common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar) Local television stations broadcast video of him walking out of the prison.
That week, according to a published account in The Courier-Journal (Louisville), some survivors of the crash and families of the victims had said that they were willing to forgive Mahoney though the disaster marked forever the congregation of the First Assembly of God, which had many members on the bus. The Courier-Journal, nicknamed the "C-J", is the main Newspaper for the city of Louisville Kentucky, USA "I feel a little bit sorry for him," Katrina Henderson, then 23, told The Courier-Journal in 1998. "He didn't wake up one day and say 'I'm going to kill 27 people. ' That's not to take any blame away from him. I think that he is a person who made some very bad choices and he paid for those choices," said Henderson, who was aged 12 when she survived the wreck. The victims were members of a church, and Christianity teaches that forgiveness is a method for those affected to bring closure to such catastrophes. Christianity ( Greek Χριστιανισμός from the word Xριστός ( Christ)is a monotheistic Religion centered on the life and teachings Forgiveness doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong
During his trial, the idea was discussed that Mahoney could save lives by talking to school groups, but Mahoney has so far declined.
According to a story by The Cincinnati Enquirer in 2003, Mahoney was living in quiet, self-imposed obscurity in rural Owen County, Kentucky, about ten miles (16 km) from the crash site. Owen County is a County located in the US state of Kentucky. As of 2000 the population is 10547
The collision riveted the nation's attention on the problem of drunken driving like never before and has been credited in part with causing the steady decline in the number of alcohol-related fatalities.
One of the victims, the youngest killed on the fatal bus, was 10 year-old Patricia "Patty" Susan Nunnallee. Patty's mother, Karolyn Nunnallee became an active member of MADD after the crash, eventually becoming MADD's national president. Karolyn Nunnallee was the seventh president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD serving 1998-1999 Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, is a Non-profit organization that seeks to stop Drunk driving, support those affected by drunk driving and Patty's mother wrote on MADD's memorial web page to Patty: They were traveling on a school bus, so I thought she'd be safe.
Janey Fair, whose 14 year old daughter Shannon was killed, become a national lobbyist for MADD, and rose within the organization to become a member of the Board of Directors and is a national vice-president. Lobbying includes all attempts to influence Legislators and officials whether by other legislators constituents or organized groups She is also head of the Kentucky Victims Coalition. According to the MADD website, "MADD helped me find my inner strength and see that life could go on," Janey said. "I have found I can make real changes in people's attitudes about drinking and driving and in how our government addresses this critical problem. Additionally, I can help other victims move forward in their lives. " Her husband also became active locally in MADD.
Joy Williams, wife of Lee Williams, a pastor of the church, and their two young daughters, Kristen and Robin, were among those killed. Dotty Pearman's husband, John Pearman was associate pastor at the church and the bus driver, was also was killed while their daughter, Christy, was involved in the crash and survived.
In the year after the crash, Lee Williams and Dotty Pearman, who barely knew each other before the crash, became friends and eventually married.
Lee and Dotty Williams also volunteer for MADD. Lee is a former chapter president of MADD in Hardin County, Kentucky, and Dotty is the current president. Hardin County is a County located in the US state of Kentucky. The couple often speaks to school groups, assists with health fairs and participates in other local events. "If I can persuade one person not to drink and drive, I've won," said Dotty. "I especially think it is important to educate children early on about the dangers of drinking and driving. We need to address the issue of alcohol with youth before it becomes a problem. "
Kentucky now requires all school buses to have nine emergency exits--more than any other federal or state standard. This includes front and back doors, a side door, four emergency windows and two roof exits. The bus that crashed at Carrollton had only front and back exits, and 11 rows of 39" seats, including the crucial area near the rear door.
Buses used by Kentucky schools must also have a cage around the fuel tank, a stronger frame and roof to resist crumpling on impact and rollover, high-backed seats, extra seat padding, a fuel system that slows leaks, flame-retardant seats and floors, reflective tape on all emergency exits, and strobe lights on the exterior. Schools also must have a diesel-powered fleet.
In 1991, Kentucky enacted stricter drunk driving laws.