U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks today regarding the 25th anniversary of the Carrollton bus crash:
"I rise today to commemorate a sad and tragic event in Kentucky history that happened 25 years ago today: on May 14, 1988, a horrific bus crash occurred on I-71 near Carrollton, Kentucky. Twenty-seven people were killed, 24 of them children, and 34 were injured when a drunk driver traveling in the wrong direction hit the bus. It remains the worst drunk-driving crash in American history.
"On this day 25 years ago, the Radcliff First Assembly of God Church in Radcliff, Kentucky, organized a youth trip to a nearby amusement park, and drove 170 miles to Cincinnati in the church bus. The bus was full with 67 passengers. After a fun day of roller coasters and ice cream, at 10:55 that night, on the return trip, a drunk driver in a pickup truck traveling north in the southbound lane of I-71 struck the church bus directly head-on.
"The impact ruptured the bus' 60-gallon gasoline tank, starting a fire which reached 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and filled the bus with smoke. With the front door blocked by collision damage, and no emergency exits in the windows or roof, most of the survivors exited through a single emergency exit at the rear of the bus. Of the 40 survivors, only six escaped uninjured. Many others suffered severe burns and other injuries. And 27 lives were lost in that crash.
"I want to extend my gratitude to the Kentucky State Police, who not only provided rescue efforts at the scene and crash reconstruction analysis afterwards, but were also the lead investigative agency for this tragedy, following the case through to the prosecution phase. Current Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer was one of the investigators who worked on the challenging case.
"Remembrances and observances in honor of the victims are happening in Kentucky today, where dozens of families remain grief stricken by the senseless loss of their beloved child. Those who survived the crash are still haunted by what happened. I wish to express my deepest sympathies for the victims' families, the survivors, first responders, and all those who were touched by this tragedy. The people of Kentucky stand with you today and share your sorrow.
"If any good can be said to have come from this awful event, it is that it directed national attention on driving safety, the dangers of drunk driving, and safety requirements in buses. Kentucky took the lead in responding to this tragedy by requiring school buses to have more emergency exits than the federal standard and instituting stricter drunken driving laws.
"Madam President, I know my colleagues in the U.S. Senate join me today in paying tribute to the 27 people who were killed in this bus crash, to their families who grieve today, to the surviving passengers who must still live with the nightmare of what happened, to their families, to the law-enforcement officers and first responders who assisted in rescuing the passengers, and to every Kentuckian whose life was altered by the events of that fateful day.
"Even today, 27 people are killed every day in America as a result of drunken driving. In 2011, drunk driving killed 9,878 on America's roads and injured over 300,000. I believe one way we can honor the memories of the victims of this terrible accident is to continue to speak out against the dangers of drunk driving and work towards its elimination. No family should have to endure the suffering that so many Kentucky families did on this day 25 years ago.
"Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the names of the 27 crash victims be included in the Record following my remarks. I yield the floor.
"There being no objection, the names of the 27 victims of the tragedy of May 14, 1988, were entered into the Record as follows:
Jennifer Ann Arnett
Cynthia Anne Atherton
Mary Catheryn Daniels
Julie Ann Earnest
Shannon Rae Fair
Richard Keith Gohn
Lori Kathleen Holzer
Charles "Chuck" Kytta
Phillip Lee Morgan
Tina Michelle Mustain
William J. Nichols, Jr.
Patricia Susan Nunnallee
John R. Pearman
Emillie S. Thompson
Crystal Erin Uhey
Denise Ellen Voglund
Amy Christine Wheelock
Chad Anthony Witt