Society

District Complained About Bus Driver Twice Before Crash

| by Jonathan Constante

The Tennessee school district had warned their bus company about a school bus driver's dangerous driving at least twice before the fatal crash that took the lives of six children in Chattanooga.

The Hamilton County school district issued a statement revealing that they had warned Durham School Services about bus driver Johnthony K. Walker's driving on two occasions, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

“Transportation Director Ben Coulter spoke in person about the written complaints with Durham School Services personnel on Wednesday November 16, 2016 and again on Friday November 18, 2016,” the statement read.

Only three days after the second warning, Walker lost control of his vehicle while speeding down a residential road in Chattanooga and crashed into a tree. The impact of the crash killed six children and injured 30 other Woodmore Elementary School students. Out of the 30 injured children, two remain in the hospital in critical condition.

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The 24-year-old bus driver, who was not on his designated route at the time of the crash, was arrested and charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, according to reports.

According to school records, the school's principal, students, and at least one parent had previously issued complaints about Walker's driving. The complaints alleged that Walker drove too fast and cursed in front of the children.

"The bus driver drives fast," one student wrote in a complaint filed in early November, according to the Daily Mail. "It feels like the bus is going to flip over... When someone is in the aisle he stops the bus and he makes people hit their heads."

"The bus driver was doing sharp turns and he made me fly over to the next seat," another student wrote. "We need seat belts."

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On Nov. 16, Woodmore Principal Brenda Adamson-Cothran reportedly told school district transportation supervisor Benjamin Coulter that six students complained that Walker "was swerving and purposely trying to cause them to fall today."

“We are cooperating with the authorities and are unable to comment,” a Durham School Services spokeswoman wrote in a statement. They did not specify whether any disciplinary action was taken against Walker following the complaints.

The bus company's CEO, David Duke, issued a statement of his own through a video message on the company's website the day after the crash.

“I can’t fathom the anguish of the parents whose children were involved in this horrific accident,” Duke said. “And it involved one of my company’s buses.”

Walker will appear in court again on Dec. 15. He is currently being held on a $107,500 bond.

Sources: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Paul/Flickr, Heavy

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