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Carrollton bus crash survivor reaches out to confessed killer

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Millions of people have seen the video of a drunk driver confessing to a crash that killed an Ohio man. Matt Cordle's confession caught the attention of a Lexington father who survived the nation's deadliest drunk driving crash.

On May 14, 1988, Larry Mahoney's pickup plowed into a bus headed back from Kings Island on I-71 in Carrollton, Kentucky, killing 27 of the 67 people on board. Harold Dennis was 14 at the time. In a newly-released documentary called 'Impact: After the Crash,' he shares his story.

In a YouTube video that went viral, Matt Cordle says, "My name is Matthew Cordle and on June 22, 2013, I hit and killed Vincent Canzani. This video will act as my confession." Millions of people watched the 22-year-old drunk driver's chilling confession.

The video hit close to home for Harold Dennis, who says "I watched the video and had to watch it a couple of times to really soak in what this young man was saying. It really struck me in a way that was difficult to explain at first."

In the confession, Cordle says "I will plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I've done to Vincent and his family."

After seeing the confession, Dennis reached out to Cordle's mom on Facebook. He says, "I just really felt compelled to send his family a message of support from someone who understood the other side of it, who understood the victim's side. I felt that there was some sincerity from this young man that he got it. That he got something."

Dennis decided to go to Columbus to speak to Cordle himself. After the meeting, Dennis wrote a letter to the judge that was read the next day at Cordle's sentencing. The victim's daughter also wrote a letter that was read it court. Cordle received 6 1/2 years in prison.

Harold Dennis told WKYT's Jennifer Palumbo "My goal wasn't to show up and be this guy with all the answers. Just lend him some support, whatever words of encouragement I could muster up but also let him know from a victim's standpoint, that I appreciate his ability to take ownership. It was what I felt from his message and I couldn't help but relate that to one other drunk driver, Larry Mahoney."

Two crashes, 25 years apart. One in Columbus, Ohio. One in Carrollton, Kentucky. Harold Dennis sees two drunk drivers with two different responses to the tragedies they caused.

"Here's a young man, 22 years old, that has taken responsibility and spoken publicly to the family and others. And then here's another man who killed 27 and affected so many other lives but still had not taken the opportunity to speak publicly. To take a step, a small step. Do something, say something, And he just hasn't," said Dennis.

Matt Cordle says "I'm begging you. Don't make the same mistake I did. Don't drink and drive" in the online confession.

Larry Mahoney spent ten years in prison. He's a free man, now 59 years old, living a very private life in a Kentucky community.

Harold Dennis says he wrote Mahoney a letter and knows he has read it, but Mahoney has never responded.


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