FLOYD Co., Ky. (WYMT) - The Floyd County school bus crash in 1958 is still the worst school bus accident in United States history.
That February morning, bus number 27 was headed towards Prestonsburg with 48 elementary and high school students on board. They never made it to school.
More than 50 years later the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Squad is getting ready to unveil a new memorial statue. You could say it is a project which brings the men together, but Captain Tim Cooley said it is more than that. "It belongs to everyone," said Cooley. "This is their home."
At the new swiftwater rescue training center 27 bricks hang on the wall. Fred Goble is the only living charter member. He said the bricks are a reminder of the deadly crash. A morning when 26 students, and their driver, died after their school bus plunged into the Big Sandy River.
"I just knew it was a very sad time and cold weather," said Goble. "We were out in the water and some of the guys had ice freezing on them."
When the Floyd County Emergency and Rescue Quad formed, right after the crash, it was the first of its kind in Kentucky. Don Willis is the son of one of the original charter members. Willis said a lot of effort has gone into their new swiftwater rescue center, which features a memorial statue.
"What it means to the community and what they've done in the past, I mean without the rescue squad I don't know where we'd be today," Willis said.
Everyone involved said they are trying to turn possibly the worst day in Floyd County's history into something positive.
"We don't want them to forget what it took to get here," said Cooley. "Those children, those charter members, and the survivors is what it is all about."
The unveiling ceremony for the new memorial statue will be held during the building dedication for the new Alexander-Goble-Willis Rescue Training Center on August 30, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.