Tenn. School Bus Driver Charged in Horrific Crash That Killed at Least 5 Children

Johnthony Walker
Hamilton County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Office

The Chattanooga, Tenn., school bus driver involved in a fatal crash that killed at least five children has been arrested and is currently facing multiple charges in the incident, the Times Free Press reports.

Johnthony Walker, 24, was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher announced at a news conference Monday night.


According to the report, Fletcher confirmed that five children died at the scene of the accident, but could not say if any fatalities had occurred at the hospital. However, the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office reported one additional death at a local hospital.

Fletcher said Walker may face additional charges in coming days.

No other vehicles were involved in the deadly crash. The Hamilton County Department of Education confirmed that 37 students from Woodmore Elementary School were on board at the time of the incident, their grades ranging from kindergarten to fifth. Of the 37, five were confirmed dead, six were said to be critically injured, and another six were admitted to hospitals but not critically injured. The remaining 20 students were treated and released from local hospitals.


Families of students who died on the scene had been notified, Fletcher confirmed, but not all families of the children on the bus had been reunited.

Meanwhile, traffic investigators were still processing the scene of the crash, while the National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation.


Fletcher said at the news conference that "one contributing factor [to the accident] may be speed," adding that the crash is "every public-safety professional's worst nightmare."

The bus crashed into a tree off Talley Road at around 3:20 p.m. Monday.

"Our hearts go out, as well as the hearts of all the people around me, to the family, the neighborhood, the school and all the people involved in this," Fletcher said. "We assure you we're doing everything we can to help everybody be as safe as they can, get the care they need and get the support they need."


Schools are expected to be open Tuesday, although extra personnel will be on staff to help the children deal with the accident, Hamilton County school officials said.

"We're going to do everything we can to assist in any way. It's a sad situation anytime there's a school bus with children involved, which there is in this case. We will do everything we can to assist in what I think is going to be a very sad situation," Gov. Bill Haslam said of the crash.


Read more at the Times Free Press. 

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