Society

Sixth Child Dies Following Chattanooga Bus Crash

| by Jordan Smith

The Nov. 21 bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, claimed its sixth victim Nov. 23 as 8-year-old Keonte Wilson died in hospital.

Five students died in the crash, among them Cor'Dayja Jones, Zyaira Mateen, D'Myunn Brown, Zoie Nash and Zyanna Harris, according to CNN. Eleven children suffered injuries.

Johnthony Walker, 24, was driving the vehicle, and has since been arrested and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide. These charges were filed prior to Wilson’s death.

The affidavit for Walker’s arrest said he was driving well above the speed limit along a winding road. Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said the “driving was reckless and unsafe for conditions at the time.”

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“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 stated.

Investigators also confirmed the bus was not on its normal route when the crash occurred.

In September, Walker was involved in another crash, in which he struck a car going around a blind corner. Nobody was injured in that accident.

“One of the things that I remember about Cor'Dayja was that she always smiled, and she would always give you a hug,” cousin LaFrederick Thirkill told CNN.

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“I pray for his family as well as I do [for] mine and the other families that were involved in this terrible accident,” Thirkill added.

She said Walker’s sister contacted him in the aftermath of the crash: “She just reassured me that her brother was a good person and she said that he was terribly heartbroken by the accident. She said that he was driving and he hit a curb or something and he tried to overcorrect the bus, and caused it to flip over."

Since the bus was not equipped with seat belts, Republican State Rep. Gerald McCormick called for a review of the management of school buses.

“From how we hire drivers to the safety of the equipment to whether their seat belts on those buses,” he told WRCB.

Additionally, personal injuries attorney Mark Warren started a petition calling for all school buses to be fitted with seat belts.

The local community and others from further afield have rallied around to support those affected. People lined up to donate blood to help save children in hospital, according to CNN. Dr. Lisa Smith noted that donations of teddy bears, money and pizzas came from as far away as Ohio.

Sources: CNN, WRCB / Photo credit: NTSB

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