Friday, February 19, 2010

The Very Worst Thing

"Near the back of the bus,
the freezing water closed around the waist of William Leedy, 13,
who said he blacked out briefly after the bus struck the wrecker.
In the mounting chaos, the boy made his way to the rear emergency
door and, after turning a handle, kicked it open" ...

One boy, Bucky Ray Jarrell, 14,
"was with us back there, but he went back up front
to get his sister and didn't come back," Donald Dillion said."

All over the bus, brothers and sisters
were trying to find each other, Ezelle Copley said.
Others reported seeing terrified small children
huddled together in seats, hugging each other...

This from the Floyd County Times:

A documentary on the 1958 school bus accident that claimed the lives of 26 children and the driver of the bus is scheduled to premiere at the Mountain Arts Center on Feb. 19.

The Very Worst Thing,” directed and produced by Michael Crisp, of Georgetown, revisits the tragedy that left a permanent scar in the history of Floyd County by including interviews with several people whose lives were personally affected by what is known as the worst school bus accident ever in the United States.

On Feb. 28, 1958, a school bus carrying 48 students left the road and crashed into the Big Sandy River. The actual cause of the accident was never officially determined, although an automobile in the ditch around a curve and a wrecker attempting to pull it out is believed by many to have led to the driver of the bus swerving and losing control. It took over two days to locate the bus.

Martha Burchett, one of the 22 students who survived the accident, is one of the people interview in the documentary. Also interviewed is John Crum, a student who was supposed to be on the bus but decided to stay home. Crum witnessed the bus crashing into the river.

Along with recounts of the accident by those who were there, and from those whose lives were changed forever by the tragedy, the documentary also includes original photographs taken during the recovery effort, including many that have not been seen by the public. A radio broadcast from the rescue scene recorded just hours after the accident is also played, giving viewers an auditory window to what it was like during a time of immense grief, panic and heroism from the volunteers involved.

This from WLEX:

The documentary is set to start at 7:30 p.m. and will be immediately followed by a question and answer session with the filmmakers and cast. The tickets for the event are priced at $8 and can be purchased by calling the Mountain Arts Center at (606) 889-9125.

The story from RootsWeb:

Prestonsburg. The morning of Feb 28, 1958 was cloudy and cold, but the pavement on old U.S. 23 above Lancer was dry. About 7 AM, bus driver John Alex DeRossett began his usual route from Cow Creek to consolidated schools in Prestonsburg, stopping to collect students in the communities of Sugar Loaf and Emma. The bus would never reach the schools. It would plunge into the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River, killing 26 students and the bus driver...

"We just couldn't believe something as big as a school bus
could be in the river and we couldn't find it," said
Floyd County Judge-Executive John M. Stumbo,
who was a member of the school board.

Quotes from Sharon Young at RootsWeb.

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