Chattanooga School Bus Driver Arrested in Crash That Killed at Least 5 Children
November 22, 2016
Bus driver Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with vehicular homicide.
A school bus packed with children slammed into a tree, flipped over and split apart.
Shell-shocked students cried as rescuers worked for hours to pull them from the wreckage.
Frantic parents screamed, "That's my baby."
This was the horrifying scene Monday afternoon on a street in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And on Tuesday morning, the city was still reeling.
At least five children were killed in the crash, school officials said, and six others are hospitalized in an intensive care unit.
"Five is a cursed number in our city right now. We are ... dealing with an unimaginable loss," Mayor Andy Berke said. "The most unnatural thing in the world is for a parent to mourn the loss of a child."
Authorities arrested the bus driver, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, charging him with vehicular homicide. But investigators are still working to pinpoint what caused the crash.
There's one key possibility authorities have already homed in on: speed.
The school bus, which had dozens of children onboard, was barreling down a narrow and winding road Monday afternoon, according to an arrest affidavit.
"Mr. Walker lost control of the bus and swerved off of 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 says.
Witness statements and physical evidence showed that Walker was traveling "at a high rate of speed, well above the posted speed limit of 30 mph," according to the affidavit.
Driving conditions were clear and dry, Chattanooga police Chief Fred Fletcher said, and no other vehicles were involved in the crash.
Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He could face more charges as the case proceeds to a Hamilton County grand jury, the police chief said.
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