Anniversary of tragedy is solemn

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

In this week’s paper, you’ll find several stories focusing on the 20th anniversary of the Carrollton bus crash.

The stories in this week’s paper represent just a fraction of those that were written for the event’s 20th anniversary, and we will make the rest available on our Web site, www.hclocal.com.

Several papers took part in this effort, including the Carrollton and Elizabethtown papers who serve the communities most deeply affected by the accident.

It’s frequently referred to as the worst drunk driving accident in American history. There were 27 victims, most of them children. Dozens were injured.

When we approached this project, we wanted to make sure we didn’t rehash old events. We know there was an accident. We know people lost their lives in an horrific manner.

But what did we learn? What changes took place? Where are the survivors now, and how are they doing?

The Carrollton News-Democrat hoped to secure an interview with the driver of the truck that caused the accident.

But Larry Mahoney has declined media requests for interviews over the years, and this was no different. And while many of us in the media would like to hear his story, he does have that right to not talk to us.

It is important to note that Mahoney served his sentence, 15 years after receiving credit for good time, and he refused parole. He was, by many accounts, a model prisoner.

The Carrollton bus crash serves as a dark reminder of what can happen when someone makes a very bad decision.

It’s likely that thousands of Americans get behind the wheel after having a drink or two. Many of them make it to their destination without a problem.

Alcohol in itself is not some great evil. When combined with a lack of common sense, reason and self control, it can result in great tragedy.

Please, as we approach Memorial Day, a holiday many of us celebrate with a festive drink or two, think twice before getting behind the wheel.

Think about the 27 lives lost 20 years ago today.

Jonna Spelbring Priester can be reached at editor@hclocal.com.