@ChattFireDept/Twitter (CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.) — The school bus driver involved in the Chattanooga, Tennessee, crash that left five children dead was not driving on his designated route, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart said Wednesday.
It is something the safety investigation agency will be looking into, Hart confirmed, before adding that the road the bus was traveling on — Talley Road — had no fatal car wrecks in the last three years and only nine vehicle crashes that involved injuries.
A toxicology report showed no trace of drugs or alcohol in the driver of the school bus that crashed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Monday afternoon, according to police.
At least five children were killed in the crash, and six children remain hospitalized from the crash, police said. No one was ejected from the bus.
The driver’s history also includes a minor wreck in September, which is being is being investigated by police as a part of the bus crash investigation, said Chattanooga Police Department Sgt. Austin Garrett. There were no charges filed in the incident, but a citation for failure to yield was issued.
Police are reviewing video from the bus and have obtained warrants for all electronic devices that were on board, Garrett said. Investigators will interview the children involved in the crash at a later date in, Garrett said.
Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher warned the media against false reports that do not originate from the department. Reports circulated that the driver of the bus asked children if they were “prepared to die,” Garrett said, but none of the witnesses police have interviewed so far have provided that information. Garrett added that not all witnesses have been interviewed yet and asked anyone who may have that information to come forward.
Police will not be providing updates on the condition of the children who were injured in the crash out of respect to the families, Garrett said.
The Chattanooga Police Department and the National Transportation Safety Board are conducting parallel investigations into the fatal incident.
Police said the driver, identified as 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, is in custody and has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, as well as reckless endangerment and reckless driving. He is being held on $20,000 bond and is due to appear in court on Nov. 29. Police confirm that Walker is represented by an attorney, but were unable to confirm the attorney’s name to ABC News. It is unclear if he has entered a plea.
The school bus was not equipped with passenger seatbelts, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
According to the affidavit of complaint obtained by ABC News, police said Walker was driving above the 30 mph speed limit on Talley Road, a narrow, winding road. Walker lost control of the bus and swerved off the roadway to the right, striking an elevated driveway and a mailbox. Walker then swerved to the left and the school bus began to roll over, striking a telephone pole and wrapping around a tree, the affidavit stated.
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