New photos surface from 1958 school bus accident

By: Steve Hensley Email
By: Steve Hensley Email

They are haunting images of one of the darkest days in eastern Kentucky's history.

New pictures have surfaced of the 1958 Floyd County school bus accident that killed 26 students and the driver.

On February 28th, 1958, Floyd County School Bus Number 27 went off the road and into the Big Sandy River.

27 people died and 22 students survived.

A documentary about the crash called "The Very Worst Thing" premiered earlier this year in Prestonsburg.

After it's second showing at the Mountain Arts Center in June, Director Michael Crisp learned about these pictures.

“We were amazed at what we saw. They are probably four or five of some of the clearest pictures of the bus after the accident that have ever been seen,” Crisp said.

Lora Jean Stratton, who's now in her 80's, took the photos after the bus was pulled out of the river.

She and her husband still live in Floyd County and remember that time very clearly.

Crisp says seeing these close-up pictures of the mangled bus was emotional and they are now being inserted into the documentary.

“It really hit home just how powerful and devastating this wreck was and you could imagine being one of the students inside that bus going through this horrific accident,” Crisp said.

Stratton says it is still tough to look at the images she captured more than 52 years ago.

“It just brings memories back to you, to think that I saw that, I was there, so it's hard,” Stratton said.

Stratton says she is glad the pictures will now be part of "The Very Worst Thing", which will be shown again November 18th at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort.

The documentary will be shown for the third time at the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg in either late February or early March, which will be around the 53rd anniversary of the crash.

It's also being shown at film festivals across the country and has already won an award.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Faye Location: Emmett, Idaho on Nov 4, 2010 at 10:57 PM
    I was born and raised in Pike County. I was 14 when this happened and it was heart-breaking. I remember I cried for days. Our radio was on all the time waiting for news. My father was a coal miner and the owner of the mine where he worked shut down the mine. The mine owner (Carl Moore) spent days and nights on the scene helping in the search for the missing. I will never forget this unfortunate accident. The memory still brings tears and a terrible sense of loss. I feel everything happens for a reason and is always for the best, yet I can't find the reason or how it happened for the best.
  • by anonymous Location: Paintsville on Nov 4, 2010 at 03:38 PM
    What a painful thing. So sad that these families have suffered this agony.My prayers are with them. This has been a wonderful project and tribute to those who died. It concerns me, though, how the wounds could be made raw each time new things surface. My prayer is for healing and peace for those who lost loved ones and for that community.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 4, 2010 at 02:09 PM
    well this bring back memerys to the family??may be a bad thing to be showing it again.was a sad day for the famileys. this might not be a good ideal.
  • by Rebecca Meade Location: Deane on Nov 3, 2010 at 09:41 PM
    I looked at the pictures and read the thing about it. I cried my eyes out. I couldnt imagine what everyone went through.. Its just so sad!
  • by ALICIA Location: KY on Nov 3, 2010 at 09:29 PM
    Is there anywhere that a person can go to see this in the south central ky area??

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