HomeNewsPolice: Chattanooga School Bus Driver Was Not Drunk or High

Police: Chattanooga School Bus Driver Was Not Drunk or High

The Chattanooga Police Department said Johnthony Walker, the driver in a school bus crash that killed six students and injured two dozen more, tested negative for alcohol and drugs.

Authorities submitted Walker’s blood samples to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations for a full toxicology screen. The report findings showed zero trace amounts for alcohol or common drugs, said Sgt. Austin Garrett with the department’s traffic division on Wednesday. Later, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart said federal investigators will send Walker’s sample to a separate facility in Oklahoma for a more in-depth analysis.

Walker, 24, is charged with five counts vehicular homicide, which will most likely be increased to six counts after another student died on Wednesday. Other charges include reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Walker was taken into custody following an interview with police on Monday.

Garrett said warrants were obtained to review video from inside the bus that show several different views of the crash. His team is also interviewing witnesses, including a motorist who was apparently following the bus at the time of the crash, but has yet to interview the children on board. He added that these interviews will be conducted in conjunction with trained child mental health experts and parents.

Garrett reported that no children were ejected from the 2008 Thomas Built Buses transit. He also said that police have yet to interview any witness who could corroborate media reports that Walker asked the children if they were prepared to die just prior to the crash.

In addition, officials are investigating previous parental reports alleging risky driving by Walker, who obtained his CDL and school bus certification in April. Garrett said investigators are aware of at least one additional minor school bus crash involving Walker in September.

Garret confirmed that six students remain hospitalized, but he would not comment on their condition citing patient and family privacy.

June 2024

Read this month's magazine for a in-depth look at school bus fleet electrification. Learn more about how to plan...

Buyer’s Guide 2024

Find the latest vehicle production data and budget reports, industry trends, and contact information for state, national and federal...


Is training mechanics on high-voltage electric school buses a priority heading into the new school year?
70 votes