- Associated Press - Friday, December 23, 2016

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The driver in a school bus crash that killed six Chattanooga children had been given additional training after previous traffic accidents in the months before the fatal wreck.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (https://bit.ly/2i9V1uX ) that the Johnthony Walker’s bus hit a cement barrier as he made a right turn in August and that his bus side-swiped a vehicle the next month.

According to 24-year-old Walker’s personnel file obtained by the newspaper, Durham also had three written complaints filed against him: One for failing to check for sleeping kids on an afternoon route and two others for being late to work.

David Duke, the CEO of bus contractor Durham School Services, has said there was nothing alarming enough in Walker’s file to merit termination before the Nov. 21 crash.

Duke said the company would terminate a driver after a crash “if it was a severe enough accident and felt the individual wasn’t capable of driving a bus.”

Minor incidents happen with big buses, Duke said. Following the September crash, Walker’s evaluation after receiving more training said: “Drove calm. Makes good turns.”

Authorities say Walker was speeding when he wrecked on a curvy Chattanooga road last month, killing six and causing 12 others to be hospitalized. He faces charges of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Walker plans to plead not guilty, according to his attorney.

The families of two crash survivors filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal accusing Hamilton County Schools, district Transportation Supervisor Ben Coulter and Durham School Services of failing to take reasonable precautions to prevent the crash and being “deliberately indifferent” to the students’ constitutional rights.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com


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