Survivors of Carrollton bus crash push for change 30 years later

(Source: Mike Fussell/ WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Mike Fussell/ WAVE 3 News)
Updated: May. 14, 2018 at 7:00 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RADCLIFF, KY (WAVE) - Thirty years ago Monday, one of the nation's deadliest drunk driving crashes left 27 people dead, including many children.

On May 14, 1988, convicted drunk driver Larry Mahoney was going the wrong way on Interstate 71 in Carroll County and slammed head-on into a Radcliff church bus.

Survivors said a lot has changed since the 1980s when it comes to laws and attitudes surrounding DUI's, but drunk drivers are still killing people daily.

"Three decades, doesn't it all go by in a blink?" Paul Richwalsky, who was the special prosecutor in charge of the Mahoney case, said.

The date of the tragedy is etched in a stone memorial, a reminder of a painful date. But, if you're trying to see how time has passed, the withering of the roses on this memorial may be more telling.

Carrollton bus crash survivor speaks to student ahead of prom
How the Carrollton bus crash changed school bus safety
Reenactment of deadly bus crash scheduled for documentary
Signs marking site of Carrollton bus crash removed

"Except for those that have to live with the pain and the price and the suffering every day," Richwalsky said.

Monday, buses drove by a memorial site at the North Hardin Memorial Gardens. It's dedicated to the 27 victims.

Much like the polished rock that still bears their names, and those of the forty who survived and met up over the weekend, changes in law, in reaction to the crash, are still standing, despite initial protests to the prosecution of the drunk driver.

"Signs said, 'We're with you, Larry'. 'You didn't mean it, Larry'," Richwalsky said. "I believe in my soul that you would never see that today."

The legal blood alcohol limit to drive has gone from .10 to .08. Laws have been passed to make prosecuting repeat offenders easier, and the penalties placed on them more harsh, but some still want tougher laws, like an requirement all convicted of DUIs in Kentucky get an ignition interlock device.

A call survivors said may one day be voiced by their children to spare them from the pain of losing others their parents know too well.

"To kind of be advocates in their own right." survivor Kim Nelson said.

Kentucky Office of Highway Safety Officials said West Virginia already requires first time D-U-I offenders to install ignition interlock devices.

Copyright 2018 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.