School Bus Contractors

Durham CEO Responds to Chattanooga School Bus Crash

Thomas McMahon
Posted on November 28, 2016
In a video statement, David Duke of Durham School Services issued an emotional apology to the families impacted by the Chattanooga school bus crash, in which five students were killed.
In a video statement, David Duke of Durham School Services issued an emotional apology to the families impacted by the Chattanooga school bus crash, in which five students were killed.

The operator of the school bus in last week’s fatal crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is cooperating with investigators to determine what happened, the company’s chief executive said.

In a video statement, Durham School Services CEO David Duke issued an emotional apology to the families impacted by the crash, in which six students were killed.

“I can’t fathom the anguish of the parents whose children were involved in this horrific accident, and it involved one of my company’s buses,” Duke said. “Nothing that I can say can take away the pain and the grief for these families. What I can say is that I’m deeply sorry for the children that were taken from their families with so much life before them.”

The leader of the contracting company said that his responsibility now is to look for answers about why the crash occurred and “how we can make sure that this never, ever happens again.”

Duke said that he directed his team to cooperate fully with the investigations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and local authorities. He said in the statement that he couldn’t elaborate on the details of the crash or the investigations.

In a press briefing in Chattanooga on Wednesday evening, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart confirmed that Durham has been “very cooperative” with investigators.

Hart said that according to the Motor Carrier Management Information System, Durham was operating on a conditional safety rating beginning in 2007, meaning that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had found some deficiencies, but those were resolved to the point that the company’s rating was upgraded to satisfactory in August 2015.

“We will be exploring what were the deficiencies and what was done about those deficiencies,” Hart said. “So we’re still in the process of reviewing their operational oversight and crash history.”

Durham is a division of National Express LLC, which is the second-largest school transportation contractor in the U.S. and Canada. The company operates about 21,500 school buses, transporting more than 1 million students for about 500 school districts.

In Chattanooga, Durham provides transportation service for the Hamilton County Department of Education. In a letter to Hamilton Interim Superintendent Dr. Kirk Kelly, Durham pledged to cover funeral costs, medical bills, and other expenses related to the crash. 

Watch David Duke’s video statement on the Chattanooga crash below.

Related Topics: Durham School Services, fatalities, FMCSA, National Express LLC, NTSB, school bus crash, Tennessee

Thomas McMahon Executive Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • Michael Scotto

     | about 3 years ago

    Kudos to Mr. Duke for a heartfelt message. This is truly a tragedy that affects many and the message helps in great ways. Thanks Dave for showing some humanity. Michael Scotto

  • See all comments
More Stories
Connecticut-based Easton-Redding-Region 9 School Districts select First Student to operate, maintain, and manage its student transportation services beginning with the 2019-20 school year.
News

First Student Expands Operations in Connecticut

The Easton-Redding-Region 9 School Districts select the school bus company to operate, maintain, and manage its student transportation services beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

The National School Transportation Association gains an exemption from the Unified Carrier Registration Board's fleet size calculation for school vehicles owned by contractors that are operated exclusively as intrastate school transportation.
News

NSTA Gains Fee Exemption for Intrastate School Buses

The National School Transportation Association receives a fee exemption from the Unified Carrier Registration Board's fleet size calculation for school vehicles owned by contractors that are operated exclusively as intrastate school transportation.

The NCST’s writing committees are seeking subject matter experts and public comment as they prepare for the 2020 Congress. Murrell Martin (shown left) and Bill Loshbough are shown here leading a discussion at NCST 2015.
News

NCST Writing Committees Seek Input

The National Congress on School Transportation’s writing committees are seeking subject matter experts and public comment as they prepare for the 2020 Congress. 

Article

Consider the True Costs of Interstate Travel

The Unified Carrier Registration Board (UCR) affirmed its position in 2017 that a school transportation company must include all school buses in its fleet for purposes of determining UCR fees — even if only one vehicle crosses state lines.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!