Following a school bus crash in Chattanooga on Monday, driver Johnthony Walker was charged with the vehicular homicide of five children. The entire incident is disturbing on its face, but even worse details soon surfaced, including how Walker reportedly asked the kids if they were “ready to die” before slamming the bus into a tree, which tore the vehicle in half. This ABC News video reveals even more, including how Walker had a recent, on-duty accident but remained in his post.
In a September incident, Walker sideswiped another vehicle after not yielding the right of way in a neighborhood. Children were aboard his bus at the time, but no injuries were reported. The second accident, clearly, didn’t end with similar results. At least a dozen children, some with spinal and head injuries, remain hospitalized. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke expressed his sorrow: “We certainly understand on this week of Thanksgiving [that] we all need to be with our families, appreciating them, thinking about our kids, because there are a lot of families hurting in our city right now.”
Multiple parents have spoken to the media about Walker and noted his erratic behavior. A few noted that Walker was known to favor speedy driving. One mother, Yasmeen Mateen, told NBC News that she complained about Walker’s driving several times since August, but school officials didn’t heed her warnings. Mateen daughter died in this week’s crash.
Authorities have determined through a toxicology screening that no drugs or alcohol were present in Walker’s system during the Monday crash. Police Chief Fred Fletcher calls Walker’s actions “reckless and unsafe.” He and his department will continue the investigation to locate “answers about why this tragedy occurred and answers for how we can make sure that this never, ever happens again.”