CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The school bus driver who was charged in connection with a crash in November that killed six children was indicted on Wednesday and faces several other charges.
Johnthony Walker, 24, was indicted on six counts of vehicular homicide, and was also charged with four counts of reckless aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of reckless driving, and one count of use of a portable electronic device by a school bus driver, the Chattanooga Free Press reports. He will be arraigned on March 24.
Walker allegedly was speeding and lost control of the bus, which left the road and hit a utility pole, overturned, and crashed into a tree, causing the roof of the bus to collapse inward. In addition to the six student fatalities, 31 children were injured in the crash, and Walker received minor injuries.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary report, which was released in January, stated that Walker had had one reportable crash and one non-reportable crash while operating school buses since the beginning of the school year in August. The report also reiterated a previously stated finding that Walker had reportedly deviated from his normal route when the November crash occurred.
The crash has prompted state lawmakers to propose bills that aim to enhance school bus safety. If passed, the bills could bring changes such as raising the state’s minimum age for obtaining an initial school bus endorsement from 21 to 25; requiring some school buses to be equipped with “a restraint system” for passengers; and requiring mandatory annual training based on state standards and a formal policy for responding to school bus safety complaints.