Carroll Co. bus crash discussed at safety conference - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Carroll Co. bus crash discussed at safety conference

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Police from more than two dozen states are in Louisville to talk safety.

Officers at the Combined Accident Reduction Effort, or CARE conference, discussed what many describe as the worst drunk driving tragedy in Kentucky history -- the Carroll County bus crash.

27 people were killed when a drunk driver going the wrong way slammed into the school bus on interstate 71 in Carroll County.

The middle portion of the conference began with a discussion about the worst drunk driving tragedy in U.S. History -- the 1988 Carroll County bus crash.

Law enforcement say learning about the crash is helping them more than two decades later.  Part of a documentary on the crash was shown today, and police say it helps them do their jobs better.

"It still is today the worst drunk driving accident in history," said Jason Epperson of Eppic Films.  Epperson directed and produced the film "IMPACT: After the Crash."

Those who experienced it say the only way to attempt to bring out something positive, is to learn how to better react.

"There were more victims in the Carroll County bus crash than just those who were on that bus and the families," said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Rodney Brewer.

Brewer said police who responded to the crash wanted to illustrate what they learned on May 14, 1988 after a drunk driver crossed the median on Interstate 71.
"Stress is very real in our life and sometimes we don't even know it," Brewer said.

Many law enforcement officials applauded a survivor after they caught a glimpse of a feature documentary that explores the day that ended with 27 dead and dozens more injured.

"It sounds kind of odd to say sometimes that you are still coping 25 years after something occurred... but it's the truth," said bus crash survivor Harold Dennis.

"You really are. it never goes away."

Brewer was interviewed for the documentary as he responded to the crash himself.

"It was a very emotional time for me to talk about that... and that was 25 years after the event," Brewer said.

Those who watched clips of "IMPACT: After The Crash" say it helps them to remember how to be a human and a cop.

"Whenever I am exposed to a situation like that, I hug my kids a little tighter, I hug my grand kids a little tighter at night," said Cpn. Doug McCleve of Utah Safety Patrol.

"It makes me remember what's important in life. And what's important to me is my family."

McCleve said say re-living moments like the Carroll County Bus Crash helps them remember how to better protect and serve.

"It kind of brings back to reality the reason why we are in this business -- to help children and families."

Those who survived the unthinkable say they want its message to help even more people.

"IMPACT: After the Crash, the film illustrates how you deal with tragedy, not even just this crash, but with the shootings in Connecticut," Dennis said.

"You wake up one day send your child off to school and you never see them again. how do you deal with that? That's what this film is about."

Dennis said he was honored to speak with law enforcement and helping talk about the tragedy helped him heal.

"You keep something like that inside of you, you don't know what will come out," said Dennis.  Dennis said he felt "forever indebted" to Kentucky State Police officers for the way they handled the situation and treated the families.  He said KSP helped supplement a grant that funded the film.

Police say they plan on showing the film to cadets and students across the country.
The film will be shown at the Louisville International Film Festival this weekend at the Galt House at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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