Police have arrested and charged the bus driver, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, of vehicular homicide of five children, reckless endangerment, and reckless driving, reported NBC News.
At a news conference Wednesday, Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said investigators found Walker had left the “designated route for that school bus.” According to the arrest report, witnesses said Walker was going “well above” the 30 m.p.h. speed limit the day of the crash. At Wednesday’s news conference it was confirmed by Chattanooga police Sgt. Austin Garrett that Walker had been involved in a “minor wreck” in September. Walker’s driving also came into question recently after people complained about Walker "and the way he operated his bus,” the Hamilton County Board of Education confirmed in a statement.
According to Sgt. Garrett, Walker’s blood tests were negative for drug and alcohol. Authorities said on Wednesday six children, who weren’t identified, are still in the hospital.
See original story below.
A school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee left six dead, according to Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston. The bus is said to have crashed, flipped on its side, and wrapped around a tree.
Pinkston said of the six people dead, five passed away at the scene and the other died at the hospital. Identities of the deceased haven't been revealed, with Chattanooga Police Assistant Chief Tracy Arnold saying the names and ages of the students who were killed would not be revealed until their families were notified. Arnold reported the students on the bus ranged from kindergarten to fifth grade, while Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said the bus had 35 students from Woodmore Elementary at the time of the fatal crash. Chattanooga Fire Department Public Information Director Bruce Garner tweeted 23 patients were hospitalized after the crash. Officials would later confirm it was 23 children.
In a news conference, Fletcher said the situation was a single-vehicle crash. He also said, "Our hearts go out, as well as the hearts of all these people behind me, to the families, the neighborhood, the school, for all the people involved in this, we assure you we are doing everything we can."
Photos of the crash, including the last person being removed from the bus, posted by the Chattanooga Fire Department show a tree going through the bus.
Authorities are said to be talking to the bus driver about the crash. Durham, the company that operates the bus, issued a statement:
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam weighed in as well: