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MADD Honors 27 Killed, 40 Survivors in Nation’s Deadliest Drunk Driving Crash

Contact: Becky Iannotta 202.600.2032 / [email protected]

30 Years Later, Drunk Driving Remains Biggest Killer on U.S. Roads

WASHINGTON (May 4, 2018) — Thirty years ago this month, the community of Radcliff, Ky., was devastated by the deadliest drunk driving crash in America. The Carrollton bus crash claimed the lives of 27 people on their way home from a church trip to an amusement park on May 14, 1988. The families of those killed and the 40 people who survived the crash, many of whom sustained injuries, were forever changed by this tragedy.

“On May 14, 1988, my daughter Patty paid the ultimate price because a repeat offender chose to drink and drive. For the past 30 years, I have dedicated my life to stopping the violent crime of drunk driving, and it infuriates me that people are still being killed by this 100 percent preventable crime,” said Karolyn Nunnallee, who served as MADD National President from 1998-1999.

On Saturday, May 12, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) will honor everyone impacted by this crime at a commemoration in Radcliff, bringing together the victims, their families, the community, MADD volunteers and many others who are dedicated to eliminating this violent, preventable crime.

“I look forward to being with those who survived the crash because we have a bond that will never be broken. As difficult as it has been to live without Patty, I cannot imagine how those kids have lived with the horror of that night forever in their memory. Children should never have to endure what they have had to endure over the past 30 years,” Nunnallee said.

Progress has been made over the past 30 years, reducing the number of lives lost to drunk driving by 44 percent through stronger laws, increased law enforcement, and a cultural shift that no longer tolerates drunk driving. However, drunk driving still remains the leading killer on our nation’s roads. In the 30 years since the bus crash, more than 375,000 people have died in drunk driving crashes and millions have been injured. In Kentucky, 6,639 people have been killed by drunk driving over the past 30 years, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“This one, horrific crash devastated so many lives at a time when America was waking up to the fact that drunk driving is never OK. This month and always, our hearts are with the victims and their families as we remember what they have lost, and we pledge to them and all drunk driving victims that we will not stop until there are No More Victims,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church, whose son Dustin was killed in a drunk and drugged driving crash on July 10, 2004. “In 1988, our country was losing more than 18,000 people every year to drunk driving, and that number is now over 10,000 people a year. We have saved lives, but we are nowhere near where we should be. Perhaps even more concerning is all traffic deaths, including drunk driving deaths, have gone up over the past two years.”

With the help of many volunteers and victims across the country, MADD is working tirelessly toward a day when there are no more drunk driving tragedies. In 2006, MADD launched the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which is based on four mission prongs:  Support high-visibility law enforcement such as sobriety checkpoints  Pass laws to require ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders  Support advanced vehicle technology such as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) and autonomous vehicles  Increase public support for these initiatives, including personal responsibility for always finding a non-drinking driver anytime plans include alcohol

“In the 30 years since the nation watched the tragedy unfold in Kentucky, we have learned how to reduce the number of tragedies, and we have a plan to get to zero,” said Sheehey-Church. “We do this to honor the victims of this crash and all drunk driving victims, because no one should ever have to live through the horror of losing someone to this devastating, preventable and violent crime.”

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 350,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.


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