Society

Mom Warned School Of Bus Driver Before Deadly Crash (Photos)

| by Jonathan Constante

A Tennessee school bus driver has been arrested after being involved in a crash that killed five children and injured 23, and now, the mother of three of the victims said she tried to warn the school for months that, among other things, the students saw him drinking "every day on the bus."

Johnthony Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide since the Nov. 21 incident, the Daily Mail reported. Walker was driving well past the 30 mph speed limit down a narrow road at the time and eventually struck a tree, according to the arrest affidavit.

Jasmine Mateen, the mother-of-three children who were victims in the crash, said she had reported Walker for reckless driving before, NBC News reported.

"I have been calling complaining about this bus driver since August," Mateen told NBC News, adding that her children would come home every day complaining about Walker. One of the victims in the crash was Mateen's 6-year-old daughter.

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Mateen said she called Woodmore Elementary School and the Board of Education. She even wrote letters to the school and to Walker, himself.

Mateen said the school's "principal read the letter to the bus driver two weeks ago." In the letter, Mateen reportedly wrote about how Walker would slam on the brakes on purpose, "making all of the kids hit their head."

"She read the letter out loud in front of all the kids and after she got done with the letter he said, 'So, I'd do it again,'" Mateen said.

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Mateen added that her kids said Walker would drink "every day on the bus," "always cuss at them" and "was always speeding."

Mateen's two other children are currently in the hospital. She said the Board of Education called her to ask about them.

"Y'all doing what y'all supposed to be doing now that it's too late," Mateen told the Board of Education. "Y'all doing what y'all supposed to be doing but my baby laying in a cold freezer."

The grieving mother also spoke with CBS News radio on Nov. 22, reports the Daily Mail. She revealed the disturbing last words Walker reportedly said to the students before the crash.

"My daughter said, right before the bus flipped, that he was speeding around the curb, and asked them, 'Are y'all ready to die?'" she told the radio station.

Gwenevere Cook, Walker's mother, defended her son, calling him a responsible father. She told CNN that he called her right after the crash and told her he was trying to rescue children from the wreck.

"Mama, I love you. I have been in a drastic accident," Cook recalled her son saying to her. "He texted me minutes later saying the kids are dead. He was trying to get [the children] off the bus - all the bodies were limp.

"He's never been in trouble before. He is a respected young man, grew up in Chattanooga and is liked by everyone."

The Chattanooga Police Department confirmed that Walker was involved in another accident in September, The Tennessean reported. Details on that crash have not been released at this time.

Walker is currently being held on a $107,500 bond. He will appear in court Nov. 29.

Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher told a news conference the crash was "every public safety professional's worst nightmare."

"Our hearts go out, as well as the hearts of all these people behind me, to the families, the neighborhood, the school, for all the people involved in this, we assure you we are doing everything we can," Fletcher said.

Sources: Daily MailNBC, The Tennessean, CNN / Photo credit: Hamilton County Sheriff's Office via CNN, Chattanooga Fire Department, NBC via Daily Mail

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