Five kindergarten and elementary school-aged children were killed Monday in a school bus crash in Chattanooga, and the driver, 24-year-old Johnthony K. Walker is being charged with vehicular homicide. The mother of three children on the bus told CBS that just before the crash, “the bus driver asked the children if they were ready to die.”
Four girls and a boy were killed in the crash, and 12 others were hospitalized, including six in intensive car. Police have said they’re looking at “excessive speed” as the main factor. Per CNN, an arrest warrant for Walker says he “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.” Besides five counts of vehicular homicide, Walker is charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
An unidentified mother who had three children on the bus told CBS two of them told her that before the collision, Walker asked the children if they were “ready to die.” One of her children was killed seconds later.
ABC reports that Walker was involved in another collision while driving a bus two months ago. There were no injuries, although there were children seated in the rear of the bus in that case. Walker was issued a citation for failure to yield. It’s unclear if the school district, or the bus company, Durham School Services, took any disciplinary action, but whatever they may have done didn’t keep Walker from driving again in a relatively short time.
Another mother, Jasmine Mateen, told NBC that she’s been complaining about Walker’s driving since August. One of her daughters died in the incident and two of her other children were seriously hurt.
“I’ve been calling y’all since August,” Mateen said she told them, according to NBC. “I said, ‘Now y’all doing what y’all supposed to been doing now that it’s too late ... Y’all doing what y’all supposed to be doing, but my baby is laying in a cold freezer.’”