School Bus Driver In 2016 Crash Was Talking On Phone

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The Tennessee school bus driver involved in the November 2016 crash that killed six children was reportedly on a cell phone call at the time of the incident.

Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston said during court on Dec. 19 that Jonthony Walker, 25, received a call at approximately 3:17 p.m. on Nov. 21, 2016, just moments before the tragic crash, WLS reported.

Pinkston said the call lasted about four minutes. He added that the first 911 call regarding the crash came at 3:20 p.m.

Police said Walker was speeding down a curvy road at the time of the crash, and was carrying 37 children in the vehicle. He is currently facing 34 charges, including six counts of vehicular homicide.

Walker has since made bail and will appear in court again on Feb. 27. He made his first court appearance in late November 2016, CNN reported.

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"Obviously this has been a devastating tragedy for the Chattanooga community. There are families in mourning, there are families that are still dealing with loved ones in the hospital in intensive care," Walker's attorney, Amanda Dunn, told CNN at the time. "Mr. Walker's family is also devastated by this tragedy. Mr. Walker has been devastated. We're hopeful that the investigation can conclude quickly and we have a better understanding of what occurred last Monday."

Walker reportedly called his mother after the crash to tell her what happened.

"'Mama, I love you. I have been in a drastic accident,'" Gwenevere Cook recalled her son telling her, according to CNN. "He texted me minutes later saying the kids are dead."

Cook insisted that Walker was a well-respected man and was a father to a 3-year-old boy.

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"He is a marvelous son. For two years he worked two jobs. He's never been in trouble before," Cook told the news station. "He is a respected young man, grew up in Chattanooga and is liked by everyone."

Police Sergeant Austin Garrett confirmed that there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in Walker's system at the time of the crash. However, investigators said that he was driving "well above" the speed limit.

"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 states.

Sources: WLS, CNN / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Hamilton County and Chattanooga Fire Dept via Daily Mail

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