The driver of an elementary school bus that crashed in Chattanooga, Tenn., killing 6 children, has been arrested and faces charges including vehicular homicide. The 24-year-old bus driver, Johnthony Walker, was charged with vehicular homicide. Walker was also charged with reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Investigators are looking at speed “very, very strongly” as a factor in the crash. It appears that Walker had a bad driving record and should have never been allowed to drive a school bus.
Six children were killed in the crash and several more are in the hospital, some in critical condition. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is in Chattanooga investigating the crash. Early indicators are that the driver was speeding at the time and lost control of the bus. For some reason the bus was also on a road that was not a designated bus route.
Durham School Services, a private company, owned the bus involved in the deadly wreck. The company had 142 crashes with injuries and three fatalities in the past 24 months, according to federal records. The records reveal at least 36 crashes with injuries and one wreck with a fatality in Tennessee during that time. There were two crashes with injuries in Hamilton County this year. The Chattanooga Police Department has confirmed the driver of the bus was involved in a school bus accident in September.
Durham School Services, based in Warrenville, Ill., has more than 13,000 vehicles and 13,000 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The company has contracts to operate school buses in several counties in Tennessee, including Shelby and Hamilton.
Durham is a large company, and it has an overall satisfactory safety rating from the federal administration, but the records show the company has more problems when it comes to driver fitness than its peers. The administration’s records on Durham state “93 percent of motor carriers in the same safety event group have better on-road performance than this motor carrier.” A safety event group includes other similar bus and truck companies.
Over the past 24 months, Durham has been involved in 346 crashes, 201 of which were towaway wrecks. That data was last updated in late October. In Tennessee, the company has been involved in crashes in three counties, according to federal statistics. In Shelby County, there were 31 injuries and one fatality as a result of 27 crashes involving the company.
Source: CBS News, Associated Press
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