Local officials and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that killed five children and wounded dozens Monday afternoon.
Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He could face more charges as the investigation unfolds.
Police have said Walker, was speeding when he veered off of the winding, 30 mph Talley Road. The bus slammed into a utility pole and wrapped around a tree with such force that it almost ripped in two.
Rep. JoAnne Favors commended the Chattanooga community for its response after yesterday’s tragic bus crash and asked for prayers during this difficult time.
“The entire community is in a state of shock after this horrific accident,” said Favors. “I was contacted late yesterday by Mayor Jim Coppinger about the accident, as it occurred in my district. I went directly to the site and stayed for hours. It is difficult to put into words how heartbreaking the scene was.”
Favors commended the efforts of rescue workers, the school system and the community for their work and caring.
“Our police officers, emergency teams, Superintendent Kelly and our school workers, and local clergy are to be commended for their quick and professional response to all angles of this incident,” Favors said.
“The children who were on the bus and their classmates will have a long and difficult road to understand and comprehend this loss of life. We ask for prayers for the victims, their loved ones, and all the residents of our tight-knit community. I know that we will respond as we always do when terrible things happen in Chattanooga: with love, compassion and caring.”
Favors said that she would introduce legislation to require seat belts in school buses when the General Assembly reconvenes in January. School seat belt legislation was proposed in the last General Assembly in response to a Knoxville school bus crash in December 2014 that killed two students and a teacher’s aide. That bill was sent to a legislative summer study.
An investigation revealed that the bus driver was texting when that crash occurred.
Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday said he would mobilize state government in response to the crash, promising a review of safety protocol to “make certain that we don’t have one more of these.”