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Driver in Tennessee bus crash charged with vehicular homicide

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The driver of an elementary school bus that crashed in Tennessee, killing five children and hospitalizing more than two dozen, has been charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving, police said on Tuesday, Nov. 22. S...

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Rescue officials at the scene of a school bus crash involving several fatalities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, U.S., November 21, 2016. Courtesy of Chattanooga Fire Dept/Handout via REUTERS

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - The driver of an elementary school bus that crashed in Tennessee, killing five children and hospitalizing more than two dozen, has been charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving, police said on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

Speed appeared to have contributed to the crash, which left the bright yellow bus mangled and nearly severed in two, Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.

Johnthony Walker, 24, was driving the bus full of students from Chattanooga's Woodmore Elementary School on Monday when it veered off a road about a mile from the school, flipped onto its side and smashed into a tree, police said.

Walker was taken into custody after the collision, which happened just before 4 p.m., Fletcher said. Walker, who was cooperating with authorities, was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Fletcher said more charges might be added.

"There are no words to comfort the broken heart of a mother or father," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement. "I pray for families affected by (this) tragedy."

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After freeing students trapped inside the vehicle, police officers worked with education officials overnight to identify the children and reunite them with their families.

Five children were killed, police said, amending an earlier death toll of six.

Of the injured students, six were hospitalized in critical condition and 26 sustained less serious injuries, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The dead included a kindergartner, a first-grader and three fourth-grade students, the newspaper reported, citing Hamilton County Schools Interim Superintendent Kirk Kelly.

"This is something we will never forget as a community," Kelly said on Tuesday, the newspaper reported.

In addition to local investigators, the National Transportation Safety Board said it planned to probe the crash.

Related Topics: CRIME
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