Chattanooga bus crash driver was 20 mph over speed limit, investigator says

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The driver in a deadly school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tenn., was speeding about 50 mph in a 30 mph zone, a police investigator said in court Thursday.

Officer Joe Warren of the Chattanooga Police Department’s traffic division testified that he knew he was “dealing with a bus that was going too fast.”

Warren said he estimated the speed of the bus at between 50 mph and 52 mph, about 20 mph above the posted speed limit.

Warren also said an onboard camera video showed that bus driver Johnthony Walker was using his cellphone on the bus, but Warren did not say when that occurred.

It is illegal for a school bus driver to use a cellphone once the first child has boarded the vehicle whether it is moving or not, Warren said.

At the close of Thursday’s hearing Hamilton County General Sessions Judge Lila Statom found there was enough evidence against Walker to send his case to a grand jury. The Nov. 21 crash in killed six children.

Walker faces vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving charges.

At the time, Walker’s attorney said the crash had been a “devastating tragedy” for the Chattanooga community.

“There are families in mourning, there are families that are still dealing with loved ones in the hospital in intensive care,” attorney Amanda Dunn said.

“Mr. Walker’s family is also devastated by this tragedy. Mr. Walker has been devastated,” she said. “We’re hopeful that the investigation can conclude quickly and we have a better understanding of what occurred.”

 

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