Carrollton, KY Pickup Truck and Bus Collision, May 1988
27 DEAD AS PICKUP, CHURCH BUS COLLIDE.
Carrollton, Ky. (AP) -- A bus carrying a church group home from an amusement park became a fiery deathtrap when a pickup truck traveling the wrong way on an interstate crashed into it, killing 27 people, authorities said.
It was one of the worst bus accidents in U.S. history, the National Transportation Safety Board said. Between 20 and 40 people were injured in the crash, many suffering from burns.
The bus, carrying 67 teen-agers and adults from the First Assembly of God Church in Radcliff, about 35 miles south of Louisville, was headed south on Interstate 71 when the accident occurred about 10:55 p.m. Saturday. The group was returning from King's Island amusement park north of Cincinnati.
As word of the accident spread, distraught relatives clutching dental and medical records arrived here Sunday to help identify the dead.
The U.S. Army provided vans to transport family members from Radclilff to Carrollton, about 75 miles away, and state police escorted the parents ot a local hotel.
State Medical Examiner DR. GEORGE NICHOLS met with about 60 family members at the Holiday Inn at about noon. He said he would not allow family members to view the badly burned remains.
"The picture ... of their children in that room is not what they have in their memories or wallets," he said.
The parents and family members were secluded in the banquet room of the hotel, where Red Cross workers were taking down family medical hostories in an effort to identify the dead.
At least eight of the injured, including the truck driver, were in critical condition Sunday, according to police and hospital officials.
"I just heard a crash, felt the impact of the car (truck) and looked up and saw flames," said 14-year-old WAYNE COX, an asthmatic who suffered smoke inhalation. "They spread pretty fast ... I was pinned. Everything was pretty wild. I was under a lot of people. That's probably what saved me from getting burned."
The flames quickly worked their way from the front to the rear of the bus, survivors said, leaving only the back door and windows as escape routes.