Thursday, March 9, 2017

Johnthony K. Walker, 24, of Chattanooga, TN, indicted with 6 counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, using a cellphone while behind the wheel of a bus, and four counts of reckless aggravated assault.

The driver of a school bus filled with elementary students when it crashed in Chattanooga, killing at least five children, has been arrested and faces charges including vehicular homicide. Johnthony Walker was arrested on Monday. (Nov. 22, 2016) COURTESY WTVC

A man police say was behind the wheel of a school bus when it crashed in Chattanooga in November, killing six elementary students on board, has been indicted.

The indictment of Johnthony K. Walker, 24, includes six counts of vehicular homicide, one for each child killed. It also charges him with reckless driving, reckless endangerment, using a cellphone while behind the wheel of a bus, and four counts of reckless aggravated assault.

Walker is scheduled to be arraigned on March 24 in Hamilton County Criminal Court.

In a prior hearing in the case in December, Chattanooga police investigators testified that Walker was going an estimated 20 mph over the speed limit when the bus crashed on a curve on Talley Road on Nov. 21. There were 37 students from Woodmore Elementary School on board at the time.

Killed were: 10-year-old Zyanna Harris, 9-year-old Cor'Dayja Jones, 9-year-old Zoie Nash, 8-year-old Keonte Wilson, 6-year-old D'Myunn Brown and 6-year-old Zyaira Mateen. More than 20 other students were injured.

As state and federal agencies began investigations of the wreck, it was revealed that students had complained about Walker's driving before, and the private company he worked for, Durham School Services, based in Warrenville, Ill., had a history of crashes in Tennessee. Those issues are cited in a flurry of civil lawsuits filed by the children's families.


CHATTANOOGA, TN — A school bus that crashed last month, killing six Chattanooga elementary students just days before Thanksgiving, was going approximately 20 miles over the speed limit at the time, a police officer testified Thursday.

Chattanooga Police Officer Joe Warren outlined the investigation that led to the arrest of the driver, Johnthony Walker, during a 90-minute court hearing.

He said police estimated the bus’ speed at between 48 and 52 mph. The speed limit on the road was 30 mph. Warren also revealed in his testimony that there were three video cameras that recorded the inside of the bus.

"The videos are very disturbing, and I don't want to describe a whole lot," said the 21-year department veteran, who estimated he'd investigated hundreds of deadly wrecks involving cars and commercial trucks. The Nov. 21 incident was his first fatal crash involving a school bus, he said.

Walker is seen using his cellphone while children were on the bus while it was parked, according to Warren's testimony. Police are sifting through 1,400 pages of Walker’s cellphone records for more information.