Remembering the Carroll Co. bus crash, 25 years later


by Gene Kang

Posted on May 14, 2013 at 6:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 14 at 8:19 PM

RADCLIFF, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Dozens of people gathered at North Hardin High School for the 25th anniversary of the Carrollton bus crash; the worst DUI-related accident in U.S. history.

Many survivors and victims' families have used their lives to help curb drunk driving while also focusing on school bus safety.

Quinton Higgins, a survivor, teaches students about bus safety in Hardin County. He decided to become a bus driver three years ago.

Higgins remembers our nation's worst DUI-related crash as though it was yesterday.

"When we got hit the impact threw us up against the seat. Got up and thought you were fine until you felt the intense heat. That's when you knew something happened," Higgins said. 

He gathered with other survivors and victims' families, 25 years later, at North Hardin Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

"I remember screaming for my mom like I was about 2-years-old or 3-years-old. Pushing and screaming and trying to get people off of me," said Higgins.

He was one of the 34 who made it out alive. May 14, 1988 a drunk driver went the wrong way on I-71 and crashed into the church bus traveling back from King's Island.

"I've got burns on my hands today because I was covering my face like that," Higgins said.

Twenty-seven people were killed, 24 of them children. The youngest was Karolyn Nunnallee's daughter, 10-year-old Patty.

"I miss her laugh when she laughed; she laughed from the bottom of her toes. She was very logical and an incredible young girl," Nunnallee said.

Nunnallee, past president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, has helped lower the legal limit to .08 and fought to make buses safer.

"I tie it all back in to my story. Larry Mahoney made a bad decision and if they make a bad decision it could cause your driver not to pay attention. You could get hit. I just tell him you never know what could happen out here," Higgins said.

The NTSB recommended lowering the legal limit from .08 to .05 and Higgins believes it's not a coincidence that it happened on the 25 year anniversary. But he hopes one day there will be zero tolerance on the roads.