5 chil­dren killed as US school bus crashes

School bus driver charged in deadly Chat­tanooga crash

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

CHAT­TANOOGA: The driver of a school bus that was filled with el­e­men­tary stu­dents when it crashed in Chat­tanooga, killing at least five chil­dren, has been ar­rested and faces charges in­clud­ing ve­hic­u­lar homi­cide. Call­ing the Mon­day af­ter­noon crash “ev­ery public safety pro­fes­sional’s worst night­mare,” Chat­tanooga Po­lice Chief Fred Fletcher told an overnight news con­fer­ence that 24-year-old bus driver John­thony Walker was charged with five counts of ve­hic­u­lar homi­cide.

Walker was also charged with reck­less driv­ing and reck­less en­dan­ger­ment. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were look­ing at speed “very, very strongly” as a fac­tor in the crash, Fletcher said ear­lier. Po­lice said overnight that five chil­dren were killed in the crash. Ear­lier in the day, Hamil­ton County District At­tor­ney Neal Pinkston told news out­lets the crash killed six. The As­so­ci­ated Press was not im­me­di­ately able to reach of­fi­cials early Tues­day to clar­ify the dis­crep­ancy. Thirty-five stu­dents from kinder­garten through fifth grade were on board when the bus flipped onto its side and wrapped around a tree.

The bus was the only ve­hi­cle in­volved in the crash, but Fletcher said the scene was com­pli­cated and cov­ered a sig­nif­i­cant area. Bloodied Wood­more El­e­men­tary School stu­dents lay on stretch­ers, while oth­ers walked away dazed with their par­ents af­ter the crash, lo­cal news out­lets re­ported. More than 20 chil­dren went to hos­pi­tals for their in­juries, ac­cord­ing to Fletcher.

Emer­gency re­spon­ders needed al­most two hours to get all the chil­dren off the bus. Tele­vi­sion cam­eras showed emer­gency ve­hi­cles still there late into the night, and the Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board tweeted that a team would be head­ing to Chat­tanooga on Tues­day morn­ing to in­ves­ti­gate. Tele­vi­sion sta­tions re­ported that peo­ple lined up to do­nate blood and some donors were asked to make ap­point­ments. Kirk Kelly, in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent for Hamil­ton County schools, said classes would be held to­day with coun­selors avail­able for stu­dents and staff.

Fletcher said the fam­i­lies of the chil­dren who died had been no­ti­fied but po­lice would not re­lease their names be­cause they were ju­ve­niles. “Our hearts go out, as well as the hearts of all these peo­ple be­hind me, to the fam­i­lies, the neigh­bor­hood, the school, for all the peo­ple in­volved in this, we as­sure you we are do­ing ev­ery­thing we can,” Fletcher said. At the state Capitol in Nashville, Ten­nessee Gov Bill Haslam called the crash “a tragic event” and of­fered as­sis­tance. “We’re go­ing to do ev­ery­thing we can to as­sist in any way,” Haslam said. “It’s a sad sit­u­a­tion any­time there’s a school bus with chil­dren in­volved, which there is in this case.”

— AP

CHAT­TANOOGA: Chat­tanooga Fire Depart­ment per­son­nel work on the scene of a fa­tal el­e­men­tary school bus crash in Chat­tanooga, Tenn.

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