- Associated Press - Saturday, June 6, 2015
Police say driver in deadly school bus crash was texting

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee school bus driver was texting at the time of a crash that killed two young girls and an aspiring teacher last year, accident investigators said Friday.

James Davenport had sent and received multiple text messages leading up to the time the two buses collided in December, Knoxville police said in a written statement. Officers have met with the victims’ families to inform them of the results of the investigation.

“This has been a very difficult procedure for all involved, and hopefully, this has provided the families another step in their healing process,” police said in the statement.

Police said they were informed that Davenport died this week as they were nearing the conclusion of their investigation. Knox County Sheriff’s officials said he apparently died of natural causes. But an autopsy was ordered for Davenport, who had sustained serious injuries in the crash.

Deputy District Attorney Kyle Hixson said that because of Davenport’s death, his office will bring no criminal case.

The two buses were traveling in opposite directions on Asheville Highway when Davenport made a sudden left turn across the concrete median and crashed into the other bus taking children home from a primary school.

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Teen sentenced to life plus 20 years in mother’s death

GALLATIN, Tenn. (AP) - A judge has added 20 years to the life sentence a Middle Tennessee teenager will serve in the 2012 sledgehammer beating death of his mother.

Multiple media outlets reported Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Dee David Gay sentenced 17-year-old Zachary Davis to 20 years each for attempted first-degree murder and aggravated arson for a fire at the house while his brother was asleep. Those sentences are to be served concurrently but consecutive to the automatic life sentence Davis received for his first-degree murder conviction.

Davis was found guilty in April of killing his mother, 48-year-old Melanie Davis, with a sledgehammer while she slept.

Davis’ attorney said he plans to file a motion for mistrial. Davis has denied killing his mother.

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Mississippi’s West to lead West Memphis college campus

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (AP) - The woman who was in line to be executive director of Mississippi’s community colleges will instead take the reins of a community college in Arkansas.

The Arkansas State University System announced Friday that Debra West will become chancellor of its West Memphis campus on Aug. 1. Formerly Mid-South Community College, the 1,800-student institution will become Arkansas State University Mid-South on July 1 pending approval by the Arkansas Higher Learning Commission later this month.

West is deputy director of programs and accountability for the Mississippi Community College Board. In Arkansas, she will succeed Glen Fenter, who’s retiring July 1 to lead the new Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce.

“It is never easy to hire a replacement for someone like Glen Fenter, but I am confident that Dr. West will continue to move this institution forward and continue its legacy as a workforce development and education leader in Arkansas,” Arkansas State University System President Charles Welch said in a statement. “I truly believe we have hit a home run with this hire.”

A native of Forrest City, Arkansas, West previously worked at Mid-South from 1997-2000 and 2002-2004. She also worked at East Arkansas Community College and University of Memphis before beginning work at Mississippi board in 2009. The Mississippi Community College Board coordinates the activities of the state’s 15 separately governed community colleges.

Welch said West will make $180,000 a year.

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Kentucky girl, 11, dies after crashing ATV in her yard

FANCY FARM, Ky. (AP) - An 11-year-old western Kentucky girl has died after being injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in her yard.

The Paducah Sun (http://bit.ly/1MazfPshttp://bit.ly/1MazfPs ) reports that Sidney Erwin of Fancy Farm, Kentucky, died Wednesday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

According to the Graves County Sheriff’s Office, Erwin had been riding the ATV earlier that day when she lost control of the vehicle and struck a tree, causing the ATV to flip over.

Deputies say Erwin was rushed to a local hospital and later flown to Vanderbilt.

Authorities say Erwin was wearing a helmet and was riding the ATV under parental supervision when the accident occurred.

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