Tennessee School Bus Driver Found Guilty of the Death of Six Students in Tragic School Bus Accident
A Tennessee bus driver on trial for his role in the death of six elementary students was found guilty Thursday on several charges related to a school bus crash back in November of 2016. Johnthony Walker was convicted of six counts of criminally negligent homicide, eleven counts of reckless aggravated assault, seven counts of assault, reckless driving, reckless endangerment, and the use of a portable electronic device by a school bus driver. Overall, Walker faced a total of thirty-four charges related to the incident. Luckily for Walker, he was convicted of criminally negligent homicide, a lesser conviction to his original charge of vehicular homicide.
The former bus driver made headlines nationwide when he picked up thirty-seven children from Woodsmore Elementary School on November 21 2016, where, according to an affidavit of complaints and online court records, he was travelling at a high rate of speed on an unauthorized route when he swerved and hit a mailbox and telephone pole. This caused his school bus to flip over and crash into a tree, ultimately killing six children between the ages of six and ten, and injuring over twenty others.
Prosecutors in court asserted that Walker was going about fifty miles per hour, which was well above the 30-mph speed limit on the narrow road that Walker was attempting to navigate at the time of the crash. As a result, prosecutors argued that Walker drove into the oncoming lane and attempted to overcorrect before the bus slammed into the mailbox and telephone pole and ultimately flipped over. Prosecutors further argued that Walker was on his cellphone when the bus crashed, an allegation that Walker denied. Taking the stand in his own defense, Walker further denied that he was speeding when he reached the curve in the road and that there was a white vehicle that encroached his lane. Specifically, Walker asserted in his defense that he swerved to avoid the encroaching vehicle, which was the the ultimate cause of the crash. "I chose to veer out of the way," Walker said. "I figured I had gotten out of the way of the other vehicle and our route would continue."
Walker’s sentencing has been scheduled for April 24, 2018.
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