NEW YORK (AA) – The driver of an elementary school bus was charged Tuesday with five counts of vehicular homicide after the bus crashed in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing at least five students, according to media reports.
Johnthony Walker, 24, working for the bus contractor Durham School Services, was driving well about the 30 miles per hour speed limit when the bus flipped and hit a tree on a winding road, police said.
Records show Walker had been involved in another accident two months ago, when his bus crossed the centerline and sideswiped an oncoming vehicle, resulting in no injuries.
Walker was jailed Tuesday on $107,500 bail and will appear in court Nov. 29.
Of the five confirmed fatalities, three were fourth grade students at Woodmore Elementary School, one was a first-grader and one was a kindergartner, Hamilton County Schools said. Six students remain in intensive care at local hospitals.
According to a CBS News report, a mother who lost a child in the tragedy told reporters right before impact Walker said something along the lines of "Are you ready to die?", raising questions of intent.
"Five is a cursed number in our city right now. We are ... dealing with an unimaginable loss," Mayor Andy Berke said. "The most unnatural thing in the world is for a parent to mourn the loss of a child."