60 Years Later: Remembering the Floyd County school bus disaster

Published: Feb. 28, 2018 at 11:40 AM EST
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February 28 marks the 60th anniversary of one of the darkest days in Eastern Kentucky's history.

A school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students in Floyd County plunged into the Big Sandy River.

26 children and their driver died, making it the worst school bus accident in United States history. Several other students survived.

The cause of the crash is still somewhat of a mystery.

In the wake of the tragedy, the Floyd County Rescue Squad was born.

"From what I am told, the paperwork was signed right on the river bank," Past Captain of the Floyd County Rescue Squad, Tim Cooley, said. "Right on the backs of people, while the search was going on for these children."

The rescue squad was the first of it's kind in Kentucky. Cooley says they are now a leader in the state for training many in swift water rescues.

"Those children didn't die in vain," Cooley said. "Those children, the driver and those that suffered went for a big reason."

About one week ago, a chest full of clothes from James (BD) Goble, one of the students to die in the crash, were donated to the Floyd County Rescue Squad.

There are many memorials throughout Floyd County. Cooley says this is an important accident to remember.

"Imagine how many lives that rescue squad has saved," Cooley said. "And it is all because of that crash."

30 years later, the same number of people died in Carrollton, Kentucky bus crash that was carrying a church group.

You can also watch a series WYMT's Steve Hensley did ten years ago about the crash here.