Officer Testifies Woodmore Bus Driver Looked at Phone, Sped 20 mph Over Limit Before Fatal Crash

Dec 16, 2016

Woodmore school bus driver Johnthony Walker approaches his attorney, Amanda Dunn, during a preliminary hearing on December 15, 2016.
Credit WUTC

Chattanooga Police Officer Joe Warren said school bus driver Johnthony Walker must have been going about 20 miles per hour over the speed limit before he swerved off narrow, winding Talley Road. The crash killed six Woodmore Elementary school children, and Walker faces criminal charges.

At a preliminary hearing, Warren testified that there was no indication Walker applied the brakes before the crash, and bus video showed Walker using his cell phone while children were on the bus, which is illegal.

Walker's attorney Amanda Dunn suggested Walker used his phone only while the bus was parked, and said the footage from the bus cameras didn't show Walker using the phone while driving. She also questioned the reliability of Officer Warren's speed estimate.

Listen to the story above for more details about the crash and the hearing.

Dunn requested Walker's charges be reduced. He faces five counts of vehicular homicide, as well as one count of reckless driving and one count of reckless endangerment charges.

At the hearing's end, Judge Lila Statom declined to reduce those charges, and sent them all to a grand jury that will next year decide whether to indict Walker.

"I do find that the conduct of Mr. Walker did result in the death of these children," Statom said. The grand jury could convene in late January.