UPDATE: Victims' mother complained about driver before bus crash
By WRCB Staff
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: The mother, grieving the loss of one of her daughters, tells Channel 3 that she repeatedly complained about the bus driver who was at the wheel in Monday's crash that claimed the lives of five children.
Police arrested 24-year-old Johnthony Walker, who reportedly taunted students from Woodmore Elementary School by "slamming on brakes on purpose, making all the kids hit their heads," mother Jasmine Mateen said.
"I've been calling y'all since August," Jasmine Mateen Mateen said. "I said, 'Now y'all doing what y'all supposed to been doing now that it's too late ... Y'all doing what y'all supposed to be doing, but my baby laying in a cold freezer.'"
As Mateen spoke, investigators from the National Safety Transportation Board were starting their review of the crash, which occurred soon after the end of school on Monday.
Among the possible evidence will be footage from on-board video cameras, along with a data recorder, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said.
On board were 37 students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. Just before 3:30pm Monday, Walker appeared to lose control on a curvy road about a mile from school, authorities said.
Two of Mateen's daughter survived the crash, but six-year-old Zyaira Meteen was one of the five children killed in the crash.
The bus was not equipped with seat belts, NTSB Chairman Christoper Hart said.
The bus swerved off the right side of the road before smacking into an elevated driveway and mailbox, a police report said. The vehicle then careened to the left and hit a utility pole, ending up on its side against a tree.
Witnesses told police the driver appeared to be going faster than the posted 30 mph speed limit, which authorities said was lower on bends in the road.
Walker has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, authorities said.