Society

Sixth Child Pronounced Dead In Tennessee School Bus Crash

| by Jonathan Constante

Another child has been pronounced dead after the Tennessee school bus crash, bringing the death toll to six.

Keonte Wilson is now the sixth victim pronounced dead in the wake of the school bus crash that took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee Nov. 21, CNN reported. Kevin McClendon, the victim's older brother, said he "was a tough little boy."

"I know he's in a better place," McClendon told CNN.

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No traces of drugs or alcohol were found in r 24-year-old driver Johnthony Walker's blood, Police Sgt. Austin Garrett confirmed. However, Walker was reportedly going well above the speed limit of 30 mph when he swerved off the road, flipped the bus on its side and crashed into a tree, officials said.

"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 arrest affidavit stated.

Investigators are currently trying to determine why Walker was driving so fast, and why the bus was not on its designated route at the time of the crash, NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said.

Hart said the bus did not make any stops after leaving Woodmore Elementary School that day. Garrett added that investigators are reviewing data devices and video of front, back and side views of the school bus.

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This is the second school bus crash Walker has caused in just three months. In September, he sideswiped another vehicle after driving around a blind curve, according to the accident report. Walker received a citation for failure to yield, ABC News reported.

Garrett called the previous crash a "minor wreck." The report stated that Walker "crossed over into the oncoming traffic lane to maneuver the bus through the curve and struck vehicle #2 in doing so."

"There were no children in the front rows, and no reports of any injuries," the report continued. The damage to both vehicles was reportedly minor.

Five children remain hospitalized after the crash. Several families will now be spending their first Thanksgiving without their children.

"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," Mayor Andy Berke told CNN.

David Duke, the CEO of Durham School Services, which runs the school's bus service, said his company has cooperated fully with the investigation.

"My responsibility now is to look for answers -- answers about why this tragedy occurred and answers for how we can make sure that this never, ever happens again," he said in a statement.​

Sources: CNN, ABC News / Photo credit: Handout, Chattanooga Fire Department via Daily Mail, Hamilton County's Sheriff's Office via ABC News, CNN

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