Biggest Bus Accident in History

Biggest Bus Accident in History

As discussed below, this bus accident occurred in 1983 in Bolivia, leaving over 100 people dead. In recent years, many bus accident lawsuits have been filed over injuries and deaths caused by negligence. As the editor of Palo Verde Valley Bus, my primary goal is to educate bus passengers and researchers on issues like safe transport, maintenance, and driver’s education. In this article, I will delve into the largest and most tragic bus accidents worldwide, including those in the United States. Disasters often inflict immense devastation upon individuals and communities as they grapple with the loss of multiple lives.

Whether it’s a plane plummeting from the sky, a train succumbing to disaster, or cadets being run over on the way to their barracks, these events are deeply felt by friends, family, and society. This article aims to comprehend these incidents and implement preventive measures to avert their recurrence, often due to negligence, as we explore the most catastrophic bus crash and analyze its far-reaching consequences on society as a whole. There aren’t just one, two, three, four, or five deadliest bus crashes. There are far more. This is why we need to educate ourselves to make sure similar scenarios are avoided. At the outset, Kentucky seems to be a bus accident country, with two of the deadliest bus crashes in North American history occurring there.

Deadliest Bus Crash In World?

Yungas Road, Bolivia Bus Driver – 100 + Dead (1983)

This remains history’s deadliest road accident involving a bus. It also remains among the most notable bus accidents on July 24, 1983, on the Yungas Road in Bolivia, known as the “Death Road.” A driver of a crowded bus lost control, causing the bus to plunge off a steep cliff, leading to a significant loss of life. This devastating bus accident claimed the lives of over one hundred passengers, making it one of the worst road accidents not just in Bolivia but the world. The treacherous nature of Yungas Road has been responsible for numerous accidents, solidifying its reputation as one of the most dangerous roads globally.

Kintampo, Ghana Africanway Bus Crash – 100 Dead (2016)

On the night of February 17, 2016, a passenger bus carrying more than 80 people was traveling along its regular 242-mile route from Kumasi to Tamale in Ghana, West Africa. Tragically, an accident occurred as the bus encountered a critical issue with its brakes. The bus collided head-on with a cargo truck that was transporting tomatoes near the town of Kintampo. The bus went up in flames, and some people who suffered injuries were able to escape after it slammed head-on with the truck. But 45 passengers were not so lucky and died.

According to CNN: 

“The collision was so intense, you could see the truck almost inside the bus. They were meshed together.”

Yorkshire Dales, UK Bus Crash- 33 Dead (1975)

On May 27, 1975, disaster struck on road B6265 when a bus carrying 45 predominantly elderly women on a day excursion from Thornaby-on-Tees to the Yorkshire Dales encountered brake failure. The bus was navigating a steep downgrade, and due to an incorrect shift by substitute bus driver Roger Marriott, the brakes encountered a catastrophic failure. As the bus approached a sharp turn, it crashed through the parapet of Dibbles Bridge. It plummeted 17 feet, ultimately landing upside down in a garden, crushing the elderly, submerged passengers aboard. The devastating accident claimed the lives of 33 individuals, including Marriott. Remarkably, despite being trapped in the wreckage, Marriott was able to communicate the sequence of events leading up to the crash before succumbing to his injuries.

Hida River, Japan Bus Crash- 102 Dead (1968)

On August 18, 1968, an unfortunate bus accident occurred en route to the religious site of Uchangidurga. Tragically, two buses were struck by a landslide and dragged into the river. The bus was carrying approximately 100 pilgrims when the accident occurred after heavy rainfall resulting from a typhoon that caused the Hida River in Gifu, Japan, to flood. The incident’s aftermath led to the recovery of over 20 bodies downstream from the accident site. The total death toll from this incident reached 102. The sources cited in the provided information are the National Safety Council, National Transportation Safety Board, and Reuters.

Deadliest Double Decker Bus Accident /Collision in World?

Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, England – 11 Dead (2015)

On August 22, 2015, during the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex, England, a Hawker Hunter jet aircraft crashed onto the A27 highway while attempting a loop maneuver. Tragically, the aircraft struck a vintage 1960s double-decker bus carrying a group of spectators.

The impact caused a massive explosion and fire, destroying the bus. The crash claimed the lives of all 11 occupants on board the bus, including the driver, and injured several others nearby. However, the jet pilot, Andy Hill, survived the crash but sustained severe injuries. The incident also caused significant disruption to the airshow and the surrounding area.

The Shoreham Airshow crash was a tragic event that led to investigations into aviation safety and resulted in changes to airshow regulations. It remains one of the most severe incidents involving a double-decker bus before September 21, 2021.

Most Deadly Bus Crashes In the USA?

Hurricane Rita Nursing Home Bus Crash – 23 Dead (2005)

On September 23, 2005, a devastating incident occurred when a bus carrying nursing home residents attempting to evacuate from Hurricane Rita caught fire and exploded. The tragic event occurred while the bus was stuck in traffic on a highway south of Dallas. Regrettably, 23 elderly patients who were too frail to escape died in the incident. The bus was en route from the Brighton Gardens nursing home in Houston, carrying 38 residents and six employees, to another nursing home located in Dallas. Investigators were called in to examine the circumstances surrounding the fire and explosion.

Mother’s Day Bus Crash, New Orleans, Louisiana – 23 Dead (1999)

On Mother’s Day, May 10, 1999, forty-eight individuals boarded a rented casino charter bus in New Orleans. Unfortunately, 23 people were killed, and 20 were seriously injured before it ended.

”We have people on top of each other, crushed between twisted metal,” Officer Joe Narcisse of the New Orleans Police told The Associated Press. (NY Times.)

The driver was under the influence of marijuana, which posed a significant safety risk similar to dulled senses from drunk driving. A subsequent police investigation uncovered that the driver had been involved in a collision, prompting the bus driver to turn frantically and veer across three lanes, narrowly avoiding three other vehicles in a potential head-on collision. Eventually, the bus crashed into a guardrail and flew off the highway, resulting in the infamous “Mother’s Day Crash.” Family members still maintain a memorial at the accident site.

Carrolton, Kentucky Bus Crash – 27 People Dead (1988)

Tragically, the victims lost their lives in their cars following a day spent on a church bus in Carrollton due to an intoxicated driver operating their bus. This devastating incident became the fourth deadliest bus accident and the worst drunken-driving crash ever recorded. Recollections from other survivors of the assault describe the harrowing moments, with some expressing a sense of familiarity with such incidents. One survivor vividly recalls seeing flashes of light before being abruptly struck by the wall behind them. Despite the shock and disbelief, everyone involved remained conscious and relatively unharmed, with no severe injuries reported due to the collision.

Yubu High School Bus Crash, Martinez, CA – 29 People Dead (1976)

The crash stands among the most tragic disasters in history. On April 21, 1976, a charter bus carrying 28 students from Yuba City High School to Miramonte High in Orinda was involved in the incident. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), multiple factors contributed to the accident, including the failure of a compressor drive belt responsible for supplying air to the bus brakes and the driver’s lack of experience.

The negligent driver mistakenly interpreted the brake warning light as the oil pressure light became confused and poorly attempted to regain control of the bus. The 1950 Crowne vehicle then burst through a guardrail on an elevated ramp, plummeting approximately 30 feet to the ground, landing on its roof, and crushing the people inside. The accident resulted in the devastating loss of 29 lives, including one adult. The impact of the Yuba City Bus Disaster remains deeply felt.

Chualar, California School Bus Crash – 32 Dead (1963)

The Chualar train-bus collision of 1963 was one of the deadliest bus accidents in the United States before September 2021. The vehicle was a makeshift bus (a flatbed truck with a canopy) constructed for the farm workers who harvested crops at the local farms. On September 17, 1963, a school bus transporting 58 students and workers was tragically struck by a freight train at a railroad crossing in Chualar, California. This devastating collision claimed the lives of 32 students and the bus driver, leaving a profound impact on the community and making it one of the most tragic bus accidents in the history of the United States. The incident serves as a sad reminder of the importance of safety measures and caution at railway crossings.

Prestonsburg, Kentucky School Bus Crash – 27 Dead (1958)

The Prestonsburg bus crash near Prestonsburg, Kentucky, on February 28, 1958, remains among the most disastrous bus accidents in the history of the United States. On a cold and cloudy morning, a school bus carrying 48 elementary and high school students on the way back from an outing at Kings Island amusement park collided with a wrecker truck, sending it plunging down an embankment and into the flooded waters of the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River. The tragic bus accident resulted in a devastating fire that claimed the lives of 27 passengers (26 children and the bus driver lost their lives in the accident, while 22 children managed to escape and survive.)

The intense heat caused temperatures to rise rapidly, reaching 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit within 90 seconds. Many victims had been returning from a day at King’s Island amusement park and were caught off guard while sleeping.

Other Driver Survived

The collision occurred when a pickup truck driver, driving under the influence of alcohol after consuming multiple beers and vodka earlier that night, traveled in the wrong direction. Shockingly, the driver of the pickup truck survived the crash. Kentucky State Police conducted an investigation and determined that none of the passengers sustained serious injuries from the initial collision, highlighting the devastating impact of the subsequent fire burn injuries.

The search and recovery operation, which lasted for 69 days, involved the activation of over 500 Kentucky National Guardsmen and other authorities. This heartbreaking incident remains a solemn reminder of the need for safety precautions and swift response to such tragedies. Following the accident in Kentucky, Governor Wallace Wilkinson promptly took action by mandating the inspection of buses throughout the state, including those used by church groups, and he implemented measures including the installation of multiple emergency exits on buses. He also spearheaded the adoption of flame-retardant seats and floor coverings. These reforms aimed to improve passenger evacuation capabilities and reduce the risk of fire-related injuries in the event of future accidents to make school buses safer.

Kentucky Guardsmen Shattered For Life

The Prestonsburg Bus Tragedy remains etched in the memory of the Kentucky Guardsmen who were involved as a rescue squad. They considered it the most unhappy state duty they had ever performed. The accident garnered nationwide sympathy for the grieving parents and admiration for the resilient spirit of the people of Prestonsburg.

Is it a Tie for Deadliest U.S. Bus Crash?

Remarkably, the death toll of 27 in this tragedy is tied with the Carrollton, Kentucky, bus disaster in 1988 for the highest number of fatalities in a bus accident. In both cases, the victims initially survived the collisions but could not evacuate the school buses safely. Following the 1988 accident, Kentucky implemented changes to its public school bus equipment requirements, including a higher number of emergency exits, making it one of the states with the most stringent safety regulations in the country. These measures were implemented to prevent similar incidents and ensure the safety of school bus passengers.

Tips to stay safe riding a bus

Here are some tips to help you stay safe while riding a bus:

  1. Be aware of your surroundings: Stay vigilant and observe your surroundings while on the bus. Pay attention to other passengers and any suspicious activity.
  2. Follow the rules and regulations: Observe and follow the rules set by the bus company or transit authority. This includes wearing seatbelts if available and adhering to any posted safety instructions.
  3. Secure your belongings: Keep them close to you and ensure they are securely stored. Avoid displaying valuable items that may attract attention.
  4. Hold on to handrails or seatbacks: When the bus is in motion or making turns, hold on to the handrails or seatbacks to maintain your balance and prevent falling or injuries.
  5. Stay seated while the bus is in motion: It is important to remain seated while the bus moves. Standing or moving around can increase the risk of accidents or falls.
  6. Use designated bus stops: Board and exit the bus at designated stops only. Avoid attempting to get on or off the bus in unsafe locations or areas with heavy traffic.
  7. Communicate with the driver: If you notice any concerns or feel unsafe during the journey, politely inform the bus driver. They are there to ensure your safety and can address any issues that may arise.
  8. Be mindful of traffic when exiting: When exiting the bus, wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and carefully check for oncoming traffic before crossing the road.
  9. Report suspicious activity: If you observe any suspicious behavior or feel threatened, immediately report it to the bus driver or appropriate authorities.
  10. Stay informed and plan your journey: Familiarize yourself with the bus route, timetable, and any potential changes or disruptions. Planning can help ensure a smoother and safer journey.

Personal safety is a priority when riding a bus as tourists, students, and local passengers head downtown. Following these tips and remaining alert can help create a safer environment for yourself and fellow passengers in your caravan or local transport.


These large, Herculean vehicles can quickly become rolling coffins. So I hope you got educated about the deadliest bus crashes involving children, teenagers, and adults across all social spheres and cultures. As you can see, distracted driving, lack of training, and mechanical problems are among the biggest causes of most bus accidents. People walking across the street, passengers aboard, and other vehicles can be pulled into an early grave along the interstate. However, acts of god and nature can strike any time, demonstrating the importance of hiring the right bus company and bus driver. A bad part can cause a bus to burst into flames, making it the fault of a repairer or manufacturer. Good luck affording a lawyer to go after these large corporations. The cost to families and society due to a collision of a loaded bus can hurt everyone.

Hospital bills, lost wages, and other problems can bankrupt families and even lead to divorce. If you are a concerned person reading this and want to make a change, we want to hear from you. We are seeking editors and volunteers and moving towards obtaining nonprofit status. If you have a story about a bus that plunged off a cliff or some safety issue that needs to be addressed, please get in touch with us at any of the provided methods. We always scream for good, dedicated help, including pro bono attorneys or even a law student who wants to donate time to updating our Q and A library.

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