Bus Driver Left His Route to Take Winding Road

6th child died Wednesday, say investigators
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2016 6:07 AM CST
Chattanooga police officers place balloons and a stuffed animal at a makeshift memorial.   (Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
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(Newser) – A sixth child has died as a result of Monday's school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tenn., meaning bus driver Johnthony Walker, 24, will face an additional count of vehicular homicide, reports the AP. He's also charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving after three fourth-graders, a first-grader, and a kindergarten student were killed in Monday’s crash. Five others remain in hospitals. Investigators say Walker, who received his commercial driver's license seven months ago, deviated from his designated route and onto a winding road. He was driving well above the 30mph speed limit before the bus flipped and slammed into a tree. Tests show he had no drugs or alcohol in his system, per NBC News.

Jasmine Mateen, who lost a child in the crash, says one of her surviving children recalled Walker asking students if they were "prepared to die" prior to the crash, but investigators say no witnesses have told that information to police. Investigators did confirm Wednesday that Walker was involved in a "minor wreck" in September in which he crossed the center line on a curve and hit an SUV with his bus, according to a police report. He was not cited in that incident. The Hamilton County Board of Education says it did indeed receive complaints about Walker's operation of the bus, and forwarded them to his employer, Durham School Services. It isn't clear how the complaints were handled, though Durham's CEO has apologized in an emotional video statement. (Read more Tennessee stories.)

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