The Knoxville (Tennessee) Police Department said in a statement Friday that a school bus crash last December that killed two students and teacher’s aide from Knox County Schools was caused by text messaging.
“The results of the investigation have shown that the driver of bus #44, Mr. Davenport, was driving while distracted due to sending and receiving text messages,” the statement said. According to police, driver James Davenport sent and received multiple messages in the moments prior to the crash.
Police also indicated they learned that 48-year-old James Davenport died earlier this week.
“Due to Mr. Davenport's death, there will be no criminal prosecution stemming from the case," said Deputy District Attorney General Kyle Hixson during a press conference. He added that the exact cause of death is unknown pending the results of the autopsy.
On Dec. 2, Knox County school bus 44 was traveling eastbound on Asheville Highway. It made a sharp left turn and crossed over a concrete median, hitting school bus 57, which flipped on its side and slid before coming to a stop, according to the crash report. The crash killed three passengers on Bus No. 57: Zykia Burns, 6; Seraya Glasper, 7; and Kimberly Riddle, 46. A total of 30 people, including Davenport, were injured.
James McIntyre, superintendent of Knox County Schools, said at a press conference that he was “outraged” to find out the cause of the accident, adding that the driver acted with “negligence, selfishness and stupidity.”
McIntyre commented that the district’s transportation contracts are under review pending the results of the final investigation. He did not rule out potentially doing away with the contracts.
“I think at this point, we will consider any and all options that will ensure the safety of our children,” he said.
Police indicated that the investigative file has been turned over to the office of the Knox County District Attorney General.