A school bus packed with elementary school children crashed into a tree in Chattanooga, Tenn. Monday afternoon, killing five children and leaving six in critical condition.
Witnesses described a horrific scene, with distraught parents rushing to the scene in search of their children. Parents could be heard crying and screaming “that’s my baby,” as first responders spent hours removing the bodies.
— Chattanooga FireDept (@ChattFireDept) November 21, 2016
— CNN (@CNN) November 22, 2016
Multiple bloodied bodies laid on stretchers an hour after the accident, and dazed children were seen walking away from the scene with cut up faces and bruised bodies. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher called the scene of the accident, “every public safety professional’s worst nightmare.”
In a chilling development, CBS News is reporting that a mother of three children who were on the bus, said that the just prior to the crash, the driver asked, “is everyone here ready to die?”
JUST IN: Mother of three kids on TENN bus tells @CBSNews that, prior to the deadly crash, the driver asked: “Is everyone here ready to die?”
— Josh Elliott (@JoshElliott32) November 22, 2016
The Daily Caller News Foundation has not substantiated the latest revelation that the driver asked the children if they were “ready to die,” but Jasmine Mateen told CBS News‘ Mark Strassman, that her daughter told her on the first day of school the driver was drinking. and that one of her three children on the bus told her that just before the bus crashed the driver was speeding and asked “are you ready to die.”
The driver, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, was arrested late Monday night and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
Johnthony Walker, 24, charged w/ 5 counts vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment & reckless driving in Talley Rd school bus crash. pic.twitter.com/9ZTIpXUZNl
— Chattanooga Police (@ChattanoogaPD) November 22, 2016
“Mr. Walker lost control of the bus and swerved off of the roadway to the right, striking an elevated driveway and mailbox, swerved to the left and began to overturn, striking a telephone pole and a tree,” the affidavit states.
The 24-year-old driver was traveling “at a high rate of speed, well above the posted speed limit of 30 mph,” according to witness statements and physical evidence cited in the affidavit.
Walker’s license had been suspended from March 3 to March 28, 2014 for failure to provide proof of insurance after an October, 2013, crash, but his license is currently in good standing, according to Nashville Patch.
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a Go-Team to assist local authorities with the investigation.
Three fourth graders, a first grader and a kindergartner died in the tragic accident, according to the Hamilton County Department of Education. Four of the five were girls. Six children remain in critical condition.
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