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Community Remembers Deadly Carrollton Bus Crash, 30 Years Later

Kyeland Jackson

Community members gathered in Radcliff on Saturday to mark the 30th anniversary of the deadliest drunk driving crash in American history.

The accident took place on May 14, 1988, when a drunk driver hit a church bus carrying 60 people on Interstate 71 near Carrollton, Kentucky.

Karolyn Nunnallee’s daughter Patti was 10 years old when she died in the crash. Nunnallee channeled her grief into activism, eventually becoming the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“Even 30 years later, that loss, that void remains,” Nunnallee said during the memorial.

A pickup truck going the wrong way down the interstate struck the bus carrying members of the First Assembly of God Church in Radcliff, killing 24 children and 3 adults.

The churchgoers were returning home after a day at Kings Island amusement park outside of Cincinnati.

At Saturday’s event at North Hardin High School, speakers read the names of the 27 people who died in the crash.

Quinton Higgs survived the crash, but said he still has a hard time talking about it.

“Unless you were there that night, there is no way you can begin to understand this. We all have strived throughout the years, we have families, we have kids. We have kids that were the age that we were in this crash,” Higgs said.

“I think about what a burden this is for me sometimes. People see me getting emotional and upset and I’m okay, but it’s still hard.”

The driver of the pickup truck served 11 years in prison for manslaughter and other offenses. He was released in 1999.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. He's covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He grew up in Lexington.

Email Ryland at
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