On the morning of Feb. 28, 1958, a school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students ran over an embankment and plunged into the Big Sandy River in Prestonsburg, Ky. Twenty-six kids and the bus’ driver lost their lives in the crash, forever altering the small, close-knit Floyd County town’s inhabitants.
Michael Crisp’s appropriately somber documentary, The Very Worst Thing, meticulously re-creates the events surrounding the accident via vintage radio recordings and photos and modern-day interviews with people — from a survivor of the accident to those who want to keep the victims’ legacy alive — connected to that day more than 50 years ago.
“The biggest obstacle we faced was the fact that the community is still grieving,” says Crisp via e-mail. “The community of Floyd County (and Prestonsburg) was very small in 1958, and the tragedy affected most everyone there. Most of the people that had deep ties to the accident, such as the children who survived the accident that morning, refused to speak with us. Of the 22 children that survived, 21 are still alive, and only two would share their stories with us on camera.”
Crisp, whose mother is originally from Floyd County, had one main goal: “I thought that a documentary film about the accident, if done properly, would help honor the victims and their families.”