Carroll County Bus Crash movie "Impact" premiers

WAVE 3's Connie Leonard spoke before the movie.
WAVE 3's Connie Leonard spoke before the movie.

HARDIN COUNTY, KY (WAVE) - A packed auditorium watched the movie Impact Tuesday night in Hardin County, based on the 1988 Carroll County Bus Crash that killed 27 people and injured dozens more.

Everyone who came to watch the film had their own reason for coming to see the film.

"One of my friends, he lost his sister in the bus crash," said movie watcher Erin Bohannon.

"I have a very dear friend who is one of the survivors," said movie watcher Sandy Nevitt.

The presentation started with a introduction from WAVE 3's Connie Leonard and message from project supporter First Lady Jane Beshear.

"We're here not to dwell on the tragedy, but to look forward," Beshear said.

That's exactly what producers did. The film offers first hand accounts of the crash and the years and healing that followed, including the story of crash survivor Christy Pearman, who married fellow survivor Wayne Cox.

There are not many tears shed in the movie; they were instead shed by the audience.

"Emotional. Just sitting there with my family and my children and it's unimaginable what the families went through so it really just kind of brought it to life and you can really feel and experience it - I did anyway sitting and watching it with my children and I'm just grateful to be alive and I just want to hug them up," Bohannon said.

"I just want to live each day the best that I can and make every day count and make sure that all my family and friends know that I love them," Nevitt said.

The movie includes file footage from WAVE 3 News as well as powerful reenactments of the crash.

"That was very difficult for me," said Quinton Higgins, Jr. who is one of the crash survivors and is ironically a school bus driver. He says getting in the bus used for filming, however, was a haunting experience.

"1988 you know it was the same bus we were on, so seeing the reenactment; yeah that was kind of tough," he said.

The story of the drunk driver who struck the bus, Larry Mahoney, is included, as well as the lawsuit against Ford Motor Company about issues like the placement of the bus's fuel tank.

But perhaps Higgins best sums up the movie's message and goal.

"Not to drink and drive. Do not make bad choices. You've also got texting and driving which is just as bad as drinking and driving," he said.

Mahoney declined repeated requests to be a part of the film; however, an interesting story about him was included. He became a pen pal of sorts with crash survivor Ciaran Foran Madden.

She suffered burns to her body, and several years later, decided to write Mahoney a letter saying that she did not hate him. She was surprised when he wrote her back and one day the two met face to face and hugged.

Producers of Impact hope to expand it to other theaters and to also get the film into schools.

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