Thousands Sob During Service for Bus Victims

Associated Press

Thousands of mourners broke down and wept, clasping hands and supporting others, during a citywide memorial service Thursday evening for 27 people killed in a fiery bus crash.

Gov. Wallace Wilkinson declared a day of mourning with flags at half-staff throughout the state. Six of the 27 victims were buried in rites conducted earlier in the day.

Twenty-four children and three adults were killed Saturday night when a pickup truck traveling in the wrong direction on Interstate 71 struck a church bus, rupturing its fuel tank and setting it ablaze.


Church’s Youth Group

The bus, owned by Radcliff First Assembly of God Church, carried members of the church’s youth group and their guests home from a day at Kings Island, an amusement park north of Cincinnati. The driver of the truck allegedly was drunk.

“Why do bad things happen to good people? None of us can answer that question,” said the Rev. Gene Waggoner at the memorial service. “And if we could, it wouldn’t take away your grief.

“I suggest that you do not blame anybody on that bus. I suggest that you don’t blame God; God did not cause this. There is sin in this world . . . and there are those who make wrong choices, and innocent people pay the price.”

Wilkinson and Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Tait, commander of nearby Ft. Knox, were among dignitaries in attendance at the service in the football stadium of North Hardin High School.

Bleachers in the stadium can hold 2,400 people, and chairs were set up on the field to boost capacity to about 4,000. Rows of people crowded around the perimeters of the field.

Break Down During Hymn

Most of those in attendance broke down during the singing of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” at the start of the service.

W. Don Tennison, pastor of the Radcliff First Assembly of God Church, read letters from President and Nancy Reagan and Vice President George and Barbara Bush during the memorial.

“Your pain and loss is ours too,” said the letter from the Reagans. “Your countrymen are with you in prayer.”