NTSB says Talley Road not on designated route for bus in fatal crash

NTSB says Talley Road not on designated route for bus in fatal crash

Chattanooga police found no drugs or alcohol in blood test of driver

November 23rd, 2016 by Kendi A. Rainwater and Emmett Gienapp in Local Regional News

A wrecker removes the school bus from Talley Road on Tuesday that crashed and killed six children on Monday afternoon.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Officials look for answers in fatal bus crash as community mourns

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Gallery: Fatal school bus crash shakes community

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UPDATE at 8 p.m.: The Chattanooga Police Department confirmed a sixth child involved in the Woodmore Elementary bus crash has died.

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UPDATES: The road that Johnthony Walker was driving on when his school bus crashed killing five children was not the route designated for his trip, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. 

At the press conference Wednesday night a spokesman for NTSB said Walker hit a mailbox on the right side of the road before swerving across and hitting a utility pole on the other side.

He also said three cameras were on the bus and video footage had been downloaded from them for review, but downloading was difficult because they were damaged in the crash. The cameras also have audio recordings.

The spokesman could not confirm whether Walker had also driven the morning shift but did say he was working a second job at Amazon and fatigue from that extra work was being investigated as a potential factor in the crash.

There have been no other fatal crashes in the vicinity on Talley Road in the last 3 years, but there have been 9 with injuries and 43 with just damage to property.

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No drugs or alcohol were found in Johnthony Walker's blood taken after the bus crash on Monday that killed five children, Sgt. Austin Garrett announced during a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Garrett also said despite claims that the driver yelled death threats to the children, no witness that CPD has interviewed has claimed Walker did.

However, Garrett also said there were many witnesses who have not yet been interviewed, most notably the children who were on the bus.

Police Chief Fletcher confirmed that investigators will be looking into multiple bus cameras that may have footage of the incident, but could not say how many cameras there were.

He also said a preliminary listening of audio recorded on the bus did not confirm Walker made the death threat.

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The Chattanooga Police Department updated the public today at 3 p.m. about its investigation into the fatal Woodmore Elementary School bus crash.

Five children lost their lives in the crash -- three fourth-graders, a first-grader and a kindergartner -- and other students remain in critical condition, according to officials.

Police arrested the 24-year-old bus driver Johnthony Walker Monday night, charging him with five counts of vehicular homicide. Walker could face additional charges as the investigation continues, Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher has said. 

Walker was driving fast on the winding curves of Talley Road in Brainerd, according to his arrest affidavit.

He lost control of the bus, swerving off the narrow two-lane roadway to the right, striking an elevated driveway and mailbox, the affidavit states. He then swerved to the left and the bus overturned, hitting a telephone pole and a tree.  The bus filled with 37 children toppled to its side, twisting around the tree.

The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into the crash, and plans to provide an update today at 5 p.m.

Durham School Services, the company Hamilton County Schools contracts for its busing services, released another statement today from CEO David Duke in a youtube video.  

Duke says he is saddened by the crash and the company is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigations.

Durham has not fulfilled a series of records requests from the Times Free Press, including Walker's personnel file and any complaints filed against him prior to the crash. 

Watch Duke's statement here:


Stay with the Times Free Press as more information becomes available.