New details about the fatal school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have emerged that cast doubt on previous reports that suggested the driver intended to crash the bus.
The mother of one of the children killed in the crash claimed that immediately before the accident, the driver asked the passengers if they were “ready to die.”
However, Chattanooga police said that so far, none of the witnesses have reported hearing the driver say it.
“I want to be very clear on this, no witness we have spoken with has that information or provided it directly to our investigators,” Sgt. Austin Garrett said in a press conference.
Garrett added that they had not yet spoken to all the children who were on the bus. The driver’s own behavior also contradicted the idea of a deliberate crash. In a phone call to his mother, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker was worried about the children and his part in the accident.
Chattanooga is mourning. People came out in front of businesses and homes to look on solemnly, wave or salute the horse-drawn hearse. One Chattanooga police officer stood holding his hat in front of a half-mast American flag. Once again, this city is healing from a tragic loss of life that has thrust it into the national spotlight.
Six Woodmore Elementary School children died on their way home from school when a bus driver, speeding around a corner, flipped the bus into a tree on Monday, authorities said. Several other children were injured and four remain hospitalized in critical condition.
The 24-year-old driver, Johnthony Walker, faces six vehicular homicide charges, and records released Friday showed students and administrators raised concerns about Walker’s driving prior to his second school bus crash this school year.
“I feel like our community got stronger after that tragedy, and we came together in a way we never had before,” Pastor Kevin Wallace said. “And I sense that it’s happening again this time with the Woodmore accident.”
When he heard about the accident Monday night, Wallace started making calls. He then rushed to the hospital to see if he could be of any help there.
“I will never forget the scene at the ER of TC Thompson’s Childrenvs Hospital Monday night,” Wallace said during the eulogy for one of the victims. “I will never forget watching a precious mother cry as she was notified that her baby would not make it home that day.”
Cor’Dayja Jones’ funeral Saturday marked the first. There’s been an outpouring of support for the families of the other five children who died: 6-year-old D’Myunn Brown; 6-year-old Zyaira Mateen; 8-year-old Keontae Wilson; 9-year-old Zoie Nash; and 10-year-old Zyanna Janal Harris.
Already, more than $112,000 has been donated to The Woodmore Fund to benefit the families of all six victims.
A Minnesota bus driver allegedly refused to take 20 middle school children home and dumped them on the side of a road after calling some of them the N-word.
The driver, whose name has not been released, allegedly became angry after two of the children began to taunt him. He then decided to take drastic action, abandoning the children near an industrial park.
Moorhead Public Schools Superintendent Lynn Kovash said the driver, who works for bus company Red River Trails, would no longer be used by the district. Kovash said the school reported the incident to the state department and the county.
The school will also investigate the students involved in the argument with the driver and plans to speak to them on Monday, Kovash said.
“The bus driver did the wrong thing, but there were also students that were misbehaving on the bus and we want to have a safe bus ride for all students,” she added.
James VanRaden, whose daughter was also on the bus, said the driver told the students.
“‘You can just get off and you can all walk.’ At that point all 20 of the students got off the bus and were essentially left on the road side,” he said.
VanRaden’’s daughter told him the driver called the two students he argued with the N-word and called the other children on the bus “a******s.”
The concerned father was furious after his daughter revealed what had transpired.
“I think the bus driver just kind of got fed up,” Kovash said. “Transportation on the bus is a privilege, it is not a right of a student to have transportation on a bus.”
The Chattanooga, Tennessee bus crash that killed six elementary school children has once again brought up the decades-long debate about seat belts on school buses.
Currently, only six states require seat belts on buses right now California, Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Texas—Ohio isn’t one of them.
Edric Morales, a father of two, doesn’t understand why it hasn’t happened yet.
“They could always have seat belts just like in roller coasters that you can quickly release,” he said. “What if there’s a case where the bus rolls over or there’s a tragic accident, what happens then? The kids just roll around the bus?”
The president of Hudson-based School Bus Safety Company said the statistics show why a school bus is the safest form of transportation for children.
“The cushioning, the absorption, the speed, the size of the bus, we don’t need them…they very rarely travel above 30 miles an hour because they are delivering kids to and from school,” School Bus Safety Company President Jeffrey Cassell said, adding that nationwide, about five kids a year die riding a school bus.
He said to compare that figure to the 800 students who are killed every year going to and from school by other means like biking, walking or riding as a passenger in a car.
School Bus Safety Company trains school bus drivers in 3,000 school districts nationwide, 100 districts here in Ohio. Cassell said the school bus itself is built like a tank and seat belts aren’t necessary. He added that if a fire breaks out on a bus or if it crashes into water kids would be trapped with their seat belts on.
Plus, Cassell said, sometimes, kids don’t wear a seatbelt correctly.
“If they wear it across the neck or across the abdomen, you are five times more likely to die than if you didn’t have a seatbelt on in the first place,” he added.