CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — A school bus driver had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he careened off a road and smashed into a tree, killing six elementary schoolchildren, police said Wednesday.
Chattanooga Police Sgt. Austin Garrett said a toxicology test was performed on Johnthony Walker, 24, the bus driver now in jail on five vehicular homicide charges.
Later Wednesday, the police department sent a tweet saying a sixth child had died of injuries from the crash.
Federal authorities said Walker left the designated bus route and had driven onto a curvy road while carrying 37 children on their way home from Woodmore Elementary School.
Police said he was driving well over the posted 30 mph limit when he lost control of the bus and slammed into a tree. Several children remain in the hospital.
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher A. Hart says it’s unclear why driver Walker left the designated route and drove the bus down Talley Road.
“One of the things we’re exploring is A, has he done it before, and B, if so, why?” Hart said.
He said Walker, who has no criminal record in the state, had taken on a second job at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, and part of the agency’s investigation will look at whether fatigue played a role in the wreck.
The NTSB will also bring in a specialist to analyze video and audio recordings from the bus’s interior cameras that were damaged in Monday’s wreck.
Police disputed one woman’s claim that the driver asked the children if they were “prepared to die” just before the wreck. Jasmine Mateen, whose 6-year-old daughter was among the dead, said one of her two surviving children who were on the bus told her about the driver’s remarks.
Garrett, however, said at a Wednesday press conference: “I want to …read more