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30 years ago, 27 lives were lost in fiery bus accident

This month marked the 30th anniversary of one of Kentucky's deadliest accidents — the church bus collision in Carroll County.

It was Saturday night on May 14, 1988. A busload of middle and high school kids from Radcliff's Assembly of God Church were on their way home from a day trip to King's Island in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were being driven by their part-time associate pastor in an old school bus that had been converted into a church bus for the group.

After stopping at an interstate rest area for bathroom breaks and to toss a baseball, the group headed south on Interstate 71.

Sadly, they wouldn't get far.

Just before 11 p.m., as reported by the Kentucky State Police (KSP), the bus driver-pastor rounded a sharp bend and was struck nearly head-on by a Toyota pickup that was northbound in the southbound lane. Its driver — a 34-year-old factory worker — was both drunk and speeding.

Those kids and their driver never stood a chance.

The KSP report detailed how the pickup slammed into the right side of the front of the bus and punctured the gas tank. Fuel spilled out and ignited a flash fire that spread throughout the damaged bus. A total of 27 passengers and the driver died that night in the conflagration.

At the time of the horrific bus crash, the driver's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was .24. He was charged with and convicted of 27 counts of manslaughter and sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Reportedly, he was a model prisoner whose sentence was reduced because of his good behavior. However, struck by the enormity of his egregious actions, the convicted driver declined the recommendation of the Kentucky Parole Board. He served out his sentence.

As we head into a long Memorial Day weekend, remember to drive safely to avoid becoming one of this year's statistics. If you are hit by an at-fault driver, you may need to take legal action to assure that justice is served.

Source: Record Herald, "The Carroll County accident," Pat Haley, May 15, 2018

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