The driver behind the wheel of a Tennessee school bus that crashed on Monday, killing five young children, reportedly asked the kids, “Are you ready to die?” as he sped along a Chattanooga road.

Johnthony Walker posed the chilling question seconds before the bus slammed into a telephone pole and a tree, according to a grieving mother who had three kids aboard the vehicle — one of whom was killed.

Walker, 24, was well above the 30-mph speed limit while driving the 35 5- to 10-year-olds home from the Woodmore Elementary School, crashing on a narrow road about a mile from the school, according to Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

One student aboard the bus told WDEF-TV that the driver “wasn’t paying attention and was going real fast.”
Walker was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He was held in lieu of $107,500 bond.

Modal Trigger
Johnthony Walker

The woman who lost a child said that she had complained repeatedly about Walker but that no officials had responded, according to CBS News.

But school officials have found no record of complaints against Walker, said Melydia Clewell, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, Reuters reported.

It was not immediately clear how long Walker had a license to drive a school bus.

The Illinois-based company contracted to run the district’s school buses released a statement saying it was devastated by the tragedy.

“We are working with the Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County School District to investigate,” said David Duke, head of Durham School Services. “We also have additional team members arriving in Chattanooga today to provide support.”

He declined to provide information about the driver.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke offered his prayers.

“There are no words to comfort the broken heart of a mother or father,” Berke said in a statement. “I pray for families affected by [this] tragedy.”
Five children were killed, police said, amending an earlier death toll of six. Among the injured students still hospitalized, six were in critical condition and six were stable, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The dead included a kindergartner, a first-grader and three fourth-grade students, according to Hamilton County schools interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly.

“This is something we will never forget as a community,” Kelly said Tuesday.

A warrant was issued to remove the bus’ black box and review evidence from a video camera aboard, according to the police chief.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it planned to investigate the crash.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.