Mother of girl killed in Carrollton bus crash speaks to families


by Gene Kang

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 5:36 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Karolyn Nunnallee spoke to families of homicide victims one day before the 25th anniversary of the deadliest DUI bus crash in U.S. history.

Her daughter was the youngest child in the Carrollton bus accident.

Instead of tragedy, she focused on helping to change laws and the world. Her message was one of hope and turning from a feeling of “pitiful to powerful.”

Decades have gone by but Nunnallee will never forget her 10-year-old daughter, Patty.

"She wanted to become an attorney and I asked her why in the world? She said mom because I want to make a difference. She was a wonderful big sister and just a great kid. Hopefully my work and the work of other has made a difference," Nunnallee said.

Patty was one of 24 children who were killed. A total of 27 people died and 34 people were hurt.

"Not only had my daughter died but she died in the worst horrendous way that anybody can imagine," Nunnallee said.

Victims' Rights Day is a gathering for families devastated by homicide who desperately want to change tragedy into hope; each receiving a flower and certificate.

Their loved ones' names engraved on this memorial wall at Resthaven Cemetery.          
Teresa Byerly's sister, Karen, was shot to death by her husband in a murder-suicide in front of their daughter... she's now an advocate for abused women.          

"I had no chance to say goodbye. One in three women will be battered by a significant other in the world. I work on domestic violence and prevention," Byerly, whose sister was murdered, said.

Many things have changed since the Carroll County bus crash when Larry Mahoney drove drunk on I-71 the wrong way, hitting the church bus traveling home from Kings Island.

"The court gave him his time of 16 years he served his time and he walked out a free man. I wish him no ill will," Nunnalle, mother of Carrollton Bus Crash Victim, said.

Nunnalle, as past president of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, helped tighten DUI laws and school bus safety.    

"We fight to see that laws were enforced. We fight to make sure people found guilty go to jail and serve their time in hopes they rehabilitate in hopes they come back better people," Nunnalle said.

A documentary on the Carrollton bus crash will be screened in Elizabethtown on Tuesday, May 14. It was produced by one of the survivors of the accident.