Chattanooga police are investigating a deadly crash that killed six elementary school students on Monday. Six students are still in the hospital.
The bus driver, 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, is charged with vehicular homicide.
Police said in a news conference Wednesday that a toxicology report found no trace of drugs or alcohol in the driver’s system at the time of the crash. They said they will continue to interview witnesses, talk to the children on the bus and review bus camera footage as they look into the cause of the crash.
Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are also combing through the crash scene. They observed the path the bus took before veering out of control.
‘We don’t know at this point how fast the bus driver was going. That’s one reason we will be checking with the three on-board cameras that can help us with that, and we also know there was an engine control module, (an) electronic module that will help us with the information on how fast it was going, whether the brakes were applied, things of that sort,” said NTSB chairman Christopher Hart.
Hart said that while a fatal school bus crash is rare, he supports the idea of seatbelts on school buses to keep children safe.
“We ask school districts that are buying new buses to consider the benefits of lap and shoulder belts in new bus purchases,” he said, adding that the NTSB is digging into the driver’s history.
“We are looking into the driver’s record. We’re looking at the training, any previous accidents, the totality of the driver’s history,” he said.
Despite reports, police said there is no evidence that the crash was a deliberate act.
“There have been media reports that he said, ‘Are you willing to die today?’ We have not had witnesses come forward to report that,” Chattanooga police Sgt. Austin Garret said.
Police said their main concern at the time is making sure the families affected by the crash have the support they need.
A memorial is growing near the site of the crash as people stop by to remember the young victims.
“I’m a mother and a grandmother and this could have been my grandchild. This could have been my child. We are a community feeling the impact right now. It’s real sad,” Michelle Ingram said.
“I feel their pain. I know their pain. That’s why I’m here,” said Sharon Glasper, who lost her daughter in a school bus crash in Knoxville two years ago.
One mother lost a daughter and has two more that were injured in the crash. She has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and funeral expenses.