Police: Bus driver speeding before crash - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Police: Bus driver speeding before crash

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Channel 3 uncovered new details about the man behind the wheel in the Woodmore bus crash.

State records show 24-year-old Johnthony Walker's bus was in another crash in September. No one was hurt.

A police report shows the the driver sideswiped a car going in the opposite direction on Sylvan Drive. Damages were estimated at more than $400.

"He said 'mama, I love you. I've been in a domestic wreck on the bus," Gwenevere Cook, Walker's mother said.

Cook said her son called her moments after the crash.

"He was trying to get the children off the bus. He found blood everywhere," Cook said.

Cook who is in Atlanta at the moment said those images will forever be ingrained in her son's mind. Police said Walker was driving well above the 30 mph speed limit right before the deadly crash.

"My heart of love is going out to all that were in harm's way in this horrible accident of God's will," Cook said.

Cook calls what happened an accident and doesn't believe her son was speeding. She said he has a 3-year-old, which makes this a tough situation for him too.

"Try a lot of love, compassion, and understanding," Cook said.

Cook said her son started driving the bus in August for Durham School Services, which is a bus contractor for the school system.

Durham School Services provided this statement about the school bus crash

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.  We also have additional team members arriving in Chattanooga today to provide support. We have offered to provide counseling to students and families of Hamilton County, as well as our employees.  We will provide all further updates in coordination with the Chattanooga Police Department and the District.

"I pray we all can just get through this someway without judging my son. It happened. God don't make mistakes. We do," Cook said.

Walker does not have a prior criminal history in Hamilton County or in other parts of the state.

The DA's office confirmed they were informed the public defender's office will be representing Johnthony Walker.

Walker is expected to be in court on November 29.


The arrest report for school bus driver Johnthony Walker says that the school bus was "traveling at a high rate of speed" according to witness statements and physical evidence gathered by Chattanooga police.

The bus has 35 students aboard.

Walker was driving "well above" the posted speed of 30 mph, police say,  when the bus rolled over Monday afternoon and crashed into a tree, injuring 26 students and claiming the lives of five children.

Police say Walker lost control of the bus and swerved off the right side of the roadway, striking and elevated driveway and a mailbox. He then swerved to the left and the bus began to overturn, striking a utility pole and a tree.

Walker, 24, was arrested on five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.

Bond for Walker was set at $107,500.

Durham School Services provided this statement about the school bus crash

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.  We also have additional team members arriving in Chattanooga today to provide support. We have offered to provide counseling to students and families of Hamilton County, as well as our employees.  We will provide all further updates in coordination with the Chattanooga Police Department and the District.

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