NTSB report recounts events leading up to fatal Woodmore school bus crash

NTSB report recounts events leading up to fatal Woodmore school bus crash

January 17th, 2017 by Kendi A. Rainwater in Local Regional News

NTSB investigator in charge Robert Accetta, left, and investigator Michele Beckjord examine the road at the site of a fatal school bus crash on Talley Road on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. A makeshift memorial to victims of the Monday crash, which killed 5 Woodmore Elementary students and injured dozens more, has grown since the road was reopened Tuesday.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

A wrecker removes the school bus from the scene of a crash on Talley Road on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Monday afternoon crash killed at least 5 elementary schoolchildren and injured dozens more. The NTSB has been called in to help investigate.

A wrecker removes the school bus from the...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

NTSB investigator in charge Robert Accetta, left, and investigator Michele Beckjord examine the road at the site of a fatal school bus crash on Talley Road on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Chattanooga. A makeshift memorial to victims of the Monday crash, which killed five Woodmore Elementary students and injured dozens more, has grown since the road was reopened Tuesday.

NTSB investigator in charge Robert Accetta, left, and...

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

The National Transportation Safety Board today released a two-page report on the fatal Woodmore Elementary school bus crash.

The preliminary report provides few new details about the Nov. 21 crash. The NTSB's investigation is ongoing and the final report will take months to complete.

"The school bus was equipped with multiple systems capable of recording and transmitting event-related data," the preliminary report states. "NTSB investigators continue to collect and analyze these data."

The report also details the events leading up to the crash, describing the curves and speed limit posted on Talley Road in Brainerd.

The 24-year-old driver Johnthony Walker lost control of the bus, carrying 37 students, as it traveled southbound on Talley Road.  

"Preliminary information suggests that, at the time of the crash, the driver had deviated from his normal route," the report states.

Hamilton County Schools contracts it busing services out to Durham School Services, and the company employed Walker. According to Durham's CEO David Duke, Walker was driving the route in reverse the day of the crash. 

According to the NTSB report, the bus collided with a utility pole, after swerving off the road the left.

"Following the collision, the bus overturned onto its right side and subsequently collided with a tree, which caused the rood of the bus to collapse inward," the report states.

Six kids were killed in the crash, and 31 students were injured.

Preliminary toxicology test results were negative for alcohol and illicit drugs, according to the report. According to Walker's personnel file, he had two minor crashes while driving a school bus prior to the fatal crash.  

Previous court testimony points to the speed Walker was driving -- 20 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit -- as a cause of the crash.

Walker faces charges of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. 


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