Driver in fatal Chattanooga school bus wreck charged; police say speed was a factor

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Investigators say the 24-year-old man driving a school bus that crashed and killed several students was going way too fast.

A preliminary police report indicates the driver, Johnthony Walker, was driving too fast.

Walker is employed by Durham School Services, which also runs school buses for Shelby County Schools.

Walker is charged with five counts of vehicular manslaughter.

The police report states "The defendant was traveling at high rate of speed on Talley Road, which is a narrow winding road. Based on witness statements and physical evidence the defendant was driving the school bus at a high rate of speed, well above the posted speed limit of 30 MPH."

At least five elementary students died and many were hurt when the school bus crashed and wrapped around a tree.

Twelve students are still hospitalized, six in ICU.

Four girls and one boy were killed in the crash.

Thirty-five students from Woodmore Elementary School were on the bus at the time of the crash.

The children ranged in age from kindergarten through fifth grade.

The police report indicates Walker lost control and, "the bus swerved off of the roadway to the right, striking an elevated driveway and mailbox, swerved to the left and began to overturn, striking a telephone pole and a tree."

Police say more charged may be added.

The NTSB is investigating the crash.

As a rule, school buses do not have seat belts. Most safety experts say belts would be a hindrance more than a help and that buses are built exceptionally well.