After the Crash
documentary filming under way
hope to release movie
about the Carrollton bus crash
sometime in early 2013
(December 2011) Many lives were changed as
a result of the 1988 Carrollton bus crash and many positive changes
occurred in bus safety and in strengthening laws relating to the prevention
and punishment for drunk driving. In an effort to memorialize the victims
and allow their families and crash survivors a chance to tell their
stories, a film company in Lexington, Ky., is creating a documentary
titled Impact After the Crash.
Harold Dennis, 37, a survivor of the crash who went on to play football
at the University of Kentucky, is one of three producers on the project
and its brainchild. Dennis suffered burns to 60 percent of his body,
including his face. He now works in sales for Biomet Orthopedics, a
medical products firm in Lexington, Ky.
Epperson, 35, of Clark County, Ky., is
directing the bus crash documentary
titled, Impact After the Crash.
He was instrumental in getting the project going because
I felt it was time to tell this story, and as a survivor, I feel
I know it very well. I wanted to make this film before anybody else
outside of the crash, so to speak.
He says he wants to use the film to memorialize the victims and to provide
inspiration that something good can come from tragedy, as evidenced
by the many good things that happened to people, like him.
We have gotten a lot of different perspectives because the story
has a lot of moving parts to it, Dennis continued. Were
not just recreating or telling a story; we are telling a story with
Dennis is being helped in the project by director Jason Epperson, 35,
who owns his own film company, Eppic Films, in Lexington, and by retired
UK history professor Daniel Blake Smith, 61, now a writer living in
Since the project began this fall, Epperson and another producer and
cinematographer David Geary have filmed 21 interviews with survivors
and victims families. Smith has conducted the interviews and written
Dennis said his team had not considered a Carrollton angle in the film,
but after receiving that question from a Carrollton resident via Twitter,
he and Epperson are rethinking it. I have not been back to Carrollton
since the accident, other than to testify at the (Larry Mahoney) trial.
I am interested in some of their perspectives, and
of Larry Mahoney himself, Dennis said. They hope to film an interview
with Mahoney, the drunk driver from Owen County who caused the accident
that night on May 14, 1988. But Mahoney has not given interviews since
his release from jail in 1999 after serving 9 1/2 years for manslaughter.
He lives a reclusive life in Owen County.
By working with a special effects company in Ohio, Epperson said they
plan to recreate the bus crash scene sometime next spring using actors
yet to be hired. The scene will not be filmed in Carroll County. However,
they may go there to film some background shots, he said.
George Nichols, the state medical examiner at the time who resides in
Louisville, has been interviewed, Epperson said. Nichols managed the
activities at the makeshift morgue that was set up at Carrolltons
National Guard Armory, where the charred bus and the bodies were taken
after the crash.
The director and producers will spend next year editing the film and
adding the color and musical score. Because of the low budget, Epperson
said he will have to do much of this work on his own, thereby delaying
the release date until sometime in 2013.
Although filming is well under way, to finish the project, they will
need to raise about $110,000 in all, Epperson said. They have raised
about $65,000 so far in a grant and private donations.
They received a $40,000 grant from the Kentucky State Police through
its underage drinking grant program, Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws,
to get the fundraising started. Funds for the $300,000 in total grants
are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention. The Kentucky State Police serves as the
designated state administrator for grant program.
The grant request was approved because of the producers intent
to show the documentary in middle and high schools as an educational
tool relating to drinking and driving, according to Lt. David Jude,
press spokesman at the Kentucky State Police headquarters in Frankfort,
Dennis and Epperson have been making the rounds on Lexington and Louisville
TV news talk shows in recent weeks in an effort to raise money for the
project since it was announced in September.
Although a terrible tragedy, the accident had many positive results,
primarily in the changes to the way school buses are constructed, including
adding more emergency exits, adding fire-proof seat covers and other
improvements to their structural integrity.
In addition, many victims family members became active in the
then-fledgling group, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. And one victims
mother eventually became its national president. The group grew quickly
in numbers and strength nationally as a result of this accident.
Dennis and Smith, both reached by telephone in late November,
insist that this will be a positive and uplifting film. This is
a positive story and it can be very uplifting, Smith said. Many
people involved in the bus crash found a new beginning for themselves
and that ought to be celebrated.
Dennis said the group has received very little opposition to the film,
but added, There is a small subset of people in Radcliff who dont
want to talk about it, but overall the reception has been positive.
Smith, who has written many books, film documentaries and feature films,
is also working on a feature film titled The Phoenix to
be centered on Dennis true life story. He said the filmmakers
hope to submit Impact After the Crash documentary
to film festivals and hope to hold a premiere in Lexington and Louisville
and possibly Radcliff, where the church group aboard the bus that night
To learn more about the film documentary Impact
After the Crash, visit: www.TheImpactMovie.com.
To contribute to the project, click the donate button.
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