FLOYD COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18)– February 28 will forever be a solemn date across the Commonwealth as we mark 61 years since of the deadliest bus crashes in United States history.
The 1958 crash claimed the lives of 26 children and the driver.
Reginald Rice, 90, said that he was one of the people who rushed to the banks of the Big Sandy River the day of the crash. He says to this day, the moments replay in his mind.
“You think about something like this in a movie scene, when they create something like this, but this was actual,” said Rice.
He remembers the weather that day. He was driving back from Prestonsburg with his brother, when he saw people running frantically to the river.
“You could see them, I mean wet, one girl was on the side and I remember the long hair was just wet, and I knew then what happened, it was obvious the bus went into the river,” he said.
The school bus was carrying 48 children and had hit a wrecker truck and careened into the river. Only 22 of the children emerged from the water alive.
“Along with a lot of other people, we were shocked, that’s all there was to it,” said Rice.
Rice said he will never forget the look on the face of a man who watched hopelessly as the bus carrying his three children was consumed by water.
“I can’t imagine what a feeling that poor man must’ve had,” he said.
The bus disaster led to the formation of the Floyd County Rescue Squad. The creation of that unit and the donations that poured in after the tragedy are sources of pride for NBC sportscaster Kenny Rice, who still visits the memorial in Floyd County with his dad.
“That’s probably the thing Floyd Countians are most proud of, is that their fathers or grandfather or uncles, stepped in and everybody stepped up,” said Kenny Rice.