Tenn. Bus Driver Charged in Fatal School Bus Crash

The crash left at least five students dead and many others injured.

A school bus driver is being charged by Chattanooga, Tennessee police after a horrific crash that killed five people Monday.

The tragedy occurred when a school bus carrying 37 elementary school children collided with a tree in southeast Chattanooga.

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston says five people died at the scene of the accident. Police have not confirmed the number of fatalities.

Police arrested 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, who was driving the bus, at the scene and are charging him with at least five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.

The Chattanooga Police Department is actively investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the scene Tuesday.

In an arrest affidavit, police said prior to the crash Walker was driving at “a high rate of speed, well above the posted speed limit of 30 miles per hour.”

“Mr. Walker lost control of the bus and swerved off the roadway to the right, striking an elevated driveway and mailbox, swerved to the left and began to overturn, striking a telephone pole and a tree,” the affidavit stated.

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher says there were no obvious road conditions that led to the incident and that police are also trying to determine if alcohol played a role in the accident.

First responders and firefighters arriving at the scene worked for hours to free children from the bus, which was sideways and wrapped around a tree.

Interim Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Kirk Kelly, who travelled to the scene of the accident, says officials are heartbroken by the tragedy.

“Yesterday was the worst day that we have had for Woodmore [Elementary School] and for Hamilton County Schools that I can recall in my life as an educator and as a parent and as a member of this community,” Kelly said.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says the tragedy should motivate lawmakers to examine school bus safety issues in the state.

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About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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