Several parents of children involved in the Chattanooga bus crash Monday (Nov. 21) voiced their opinions about the driver and suspect behind the incident that killed five children and injured several others.
CNN reports the incident happened Monday afternoon when Johnthony Walker picked up 37 students from Woodmore Elementary School to take home. Police believe speed played a factor in the crash when the bus wrapped around a tree, flipped and split in half just one mile away from the school. Five children were pronounced dead and six others are currently in intensive care. The victims were four girls and one boy ranging from kindergarten to the fourth grade.
Walker was arrested and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, with one count of reckless endangerment and reckless driving. A few parents of the children spoke about the 24-year-old and how their concerns were never taken to account by Walker’s employer or school board. Speaking to Good Morning America on Tuesday (Nov. 22) Craig Harris says he noticed on different accounts Walker driving faster than normal. “That’s the reason why I tried to be there in the mornings when he’s pulling up,” Harris said. “And also in the evenings, because some days he would come up the street and drop them off, some days he would go down the street and drop them off, and I’m not a bus driver, so I’m not sure what their protocol is, but I kind of figured that wasn’t something he was supposed to be doing.” His children and niece were injured in the crash but are doing better.
Jasmine Mateeen, a mother of three who lost one of her daughters in the accident said Walker had a drinking problem. In the past, she has sent letters and complained to school officials about Walker’s behavior towards the children. She also claims her children told her Walker said, ‘Are y’all ready to die’ shortly before the wreck. “My daughter said right before the bus flipped that he was speeding around the curve and asked them ‘Are y’all ready to die,’” Mateen said to CBS News. I called the board of education, I wrote the school, went up to the school and wrote a letter to the bus driver [too] and nothing happened.’
Walker’s employer, Durham School Services, released a statement on their site about the incident.”Our entire team at Durham School Services is devastated by the accident yesterday that tragically claimed the lives of Chattanooga students. We are working with Chattanooga Police Department and Hamilton County School District to investigate.”
Police plan on speaking with the children and looking at the recovered black box recording and video footage from the bus. Walker could face more charges as the investigation continues.