@ChattFireDept/Twitter (CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) — A school bus driver has been arrested in connection to a crash that killed five young children in Tennessee.
Of the five deaths, interim superintendent Kirk Kelly of the Hamilton County Department of Education said Tuesday morning, three of the children were in fourth-grade, one was in first-grade and the other was a kindergartner, officials said.
Four of the five were girls.
Six students also remain in intensive care, but details had not been released.
The bus was carrying 37 children from Woodmore Elementary School in Chattanooga, ranging from kindergarten to fifth-grade, when it crashed into a tree at around 3:30 in the afternoon Monday, officials said.
The 32 survivors have been accounted for, according to Kelly, who added that students at the district will be excused if they decide not to come in Tuesday, but that counselors will be on hand for those who do.
Police said the driver of the bus, Johnthony Walker, 24, 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. Kelly said Tuesday morning the school would cooperate with the investigation.
Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He is being held on a $20,000 bond. A preliminary court date has been set for Nov. 29.
Speed was being considered “very, very strongly as a factor in this crash,” Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
Interim superintendent Kelly called Monday “one of the worst days we have had” in the school community.
A spokeswoman 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,” spokeswoman Carina Noble added.
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