A mother who had three children on the Chattanooga bus that crashed on Monday talked to CBS News about the moments before the fatal collision. Although the unidentified mother had one child die from the crash, she said her other two children alleged that driver Johnthony Walker asked the children, “Are you ready to die?” before swerving off the road.
“The mother says that in the moments before the crash, the bus driver said something to the effect of ‘Are you all ready to die?’ and then seconds later, the bus was on its side and five kids were killed,” said CBS reporter Mark Strassmann.
The 24-year-old bus driver, Johnthony Walker, was arrested and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment.
Before the crash, the same mother allegedly filed numerous complaints against Walker, but no officials ever responded, said the mother.
However, upon further investigation, school officials said they found no record of complaints against Walker, said Melydia Clewell, a spokeswoman for the Hamilton County District Attorney’s Office, reported Reuters.
According to authorities, Walker drove well above the 30-mph speed limit while driving around 37 Woodmore Elementary School students, ranging in age from 5-10.
"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 said.
Walker was held in lieu of $107,500 bond.
The Illinois-based company contracted to run the district’s school buses released the following statement.
“We are working with the Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County School District to investigate,” said David Duke, head of Durham School Services, reported the New York Post. “We also have additional team members arriving in Chattanooga today to provide support.”
(Photo: Chattanooga Police Department via AP)