@ChattFireDept/Twitter (CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) — A school bus driver has been arrested after a fatal crash claimed the lives of five young schoolchildren in Tennessee on Monday.
Some 35 children from Woodmore Elementary School in Chattanooga — ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade — were on board when the bus hit a tree before 3:30 p.m., police said.
Twenty-three children were transported to Erlanger hospital and police are now confirming five fatalities.
Cops said the driver of the bus, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, has been arrested and a warrant has been issued to remove the black box from the bus and review evidence on the bus’s video cameras.
Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
Speed was being considered “very, very strongly as a factor in this crash,” Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
Hamilton County schools interim superintendent Kirk Kelly called today “one of the worst days we have had” in the school community.
A spokesperson for the bus operator said its “thoughts and prayers are with the students and families who are affected.”
“Because this is an active investigation, we are unable to answer any questions at this time as we work with authorities,” the spokesperson, Carina Noble, added.
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