Drugs, Alcohol Not Involved in Bus Crash; 6th Child Dies | NBC Bay Area
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Drugs, Alcohol Not Involved in Bus Crash; 6th Child Dies

The NTSB said the site of the deadly crash wasn't on the bus' normal route

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    At least five people are dead after a school bus accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the driver of the bus has been arrested. Thirty-five children were on the bus, ranging in age from kindergarten through 5th grade. Twenty-four children were rushed to the hospital. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016)

    A school bus driver had no drugs or alcohol in his system when he careened off a road and smashed into a tree, killing six elementary schoolchildren, police said Wednesday.

    Chattanooga Police Sgt. Austin Garrett said a toxicology test was performed on Johnthony Walker, 24, the bus driver now in jail on five vehicular homicide charges.

    New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    [NATL] New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    The city of New Orleans will remove four statues of Confederate-era events and figures in an effort to divorce itself from symbols that some see as problematic. The first statue, the Liberty Place Monument, was taken down early Monday morning. 

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    Later Wednesday, the police department said in a statement that a sixth child had died of injuries from the crash and another vehicular homicide charge would be added.

    Federal authorities said Walker left the designated bus route and had driven onto a curvy road while carrying 37 children on their way home from Woodmore Elementary School.

    Police said he was driving well over the posted 30 mph limit when he lost control of the bus and slammed into a tree. Five children remain in the hospital.

    National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher A. Hart says it's unclear why driver Walker left the designated route and drove the bus down Talley Road.

    Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    [NATL-DFW] Driver Flees Traffic Stop, Dragging Police Officer

    Body camera footage shows a Florida police officer being dragged by a driver attempting to flee a traffic stop.

    Police said Frank Wetzel, 61, was pulled over after blowing through a stop sign. Police said he started fidgeting with something next to him, making the officer suspicious. He was allegedly later found with a machete and handgun.

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    "One of the things we're exploring is A, has he done it before, and B, if so, why?" Hart said.

    He said Walker, who has no criminal record in the state, had taken on a second job at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, and part of the agency's investigation will look at whether fatigue played a role in the wreck.

    The NTSB will also bring in a specialist to analyze video and audio recordings from the bus's interior cameras that were damaged in Monday's wreck.

    Police disputed one woman's claim that the driver asked the children if they were "prepared to die" just before the wreck. Jasmine Mateen, whose 6-year-old daughter was among the dead, said one of her two surviving children who were on the bus told her about the driver's remarks.

    Garrett, however, said at a Wednesday press conference: "I want to be very clear on this. No witness we have spoken with has that information or provided it directly to our investigators."

    He added that investigators have not yet interviewed the children on the bus and asked anyone with additional information to bring it to police.

    Three of the children killed were in fourth grade, one in first grade and another in kindergarten, said Kirk Kelly, interim superintendent of Hamilton County schools. The age and identity of the sixth child wasn't immediately released. A makeshift memorial to them grew up around a telephone pole, with stuffed bears, flowers and dozens of balloons.

    Their families remembered them as fun, happy children taken much too soon.

    Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    [NATL-BAY] Flight Attendant's Behavior Questioned Following Altercation

    One day after an American Airlines flight attendant became entangled in an altercation with passengers, his employer is investigating whether or not he was out of line. Thom Jensen reports.

    (Published Sunday, April 23, 2017)

    D'Myunn Brown liked to play little tricks on grown-ups. The 6-year-old would snatch a cellphone, hide it, then giggle and bat his big brown eyes.

    "That's what made him so pretty, and he was as sweet as he could be," said his great-grandmother, Winifred Bray. "I'm still numb. I still can't believe he's gone."

    LaFrederick Thirkill remembered his 9-year-old cousin, Cordayja Jones, as a girly-girl who liked dressing up and giving hugs.

    Thirkill is the principal at Orchard Knob Elementary, where Cordayja attended before changing schools to Woodmore Elementary.

    Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    [NATL] Drive-Thru Pot Dispensary Opens in Colorado

    When you think of a drive-thru, fast food probably comes to mind. But what about marijuana? Tumbleweed Express Drive-Thru in Parachute, Colorado, is the first of its kind. After nearly a year of preparation, the drive-thru pot shop opened for business on 4/20. 

    "Their timing couldn't have been better in my opinion, I mean everybody wants to celebrate," said Kyle Steele, a customer at the drive-thru.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    She was a polite little girl, he said. Even though he was her cousin, she called him "Mr. Thirkill" when she saw him in the hallways.

    "I remember her as just a kid who always smiles," he said.

    School officials repeatedly declined to answer questions Wednesday about whether they received complaints about the driver. School Principal Brenda Adamson-Cothran said their focus is on "giving our families and students the support that they need in this tragedy."

    Walker was involved in another bus accident only two months ago, police said. In September, he was driving the bus into a blind curve when he crossed over the center line and hit an SUV, according to a police report. No one was injured, and the damage to both vehicles was minor. He was not cited for any violations.

    Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    [NATL] Protester, Official React to Arkansas Execution

    Just before midnight Thursday, Arkansas announced it had executed death row inmate Ledell Lee. He is the first of four inmates scheduled to die before the end of the month when a crucial lethal injection drug is set to expire. A protester and a spokesperson for the governor reacted to the controversial execution.

    (Published Friday, April 21, 2017)

    Hamilton County School District spokeswoman Amy Katcher referred all questions about his performance and that of other drivers to the company that manages them, Durham School Services.

    The bus company did not respond to questions about its safety record or Walker's employment history. Durham CEO David A. Duke released a video statement expressing condolences to the families and pledging to work with investigators.

    A mother and 8-year-old son, who was injured in the crash, filed a lawsuit against Durham on Wednesday, attorney Herbert Thornbury confirmed. He said the boy suffered minor injuries, watched his best friend die and has been crying uncontrollably ever since. The lawsuit contends the boy may be permanently injured, sustained pain and suffering and will incur medical and other expenses as a result of the wreck.

    Based in Warrenville, Illinois, Durham operates about 13,700 vehicles across the U.S. and has nearly as many drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

    Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    [NATL] Bill O'Reilly Ousted At Fox News Channel

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly was officially pushed out at the network. This comes after O'Reilly had paid out more than $13 million to five different women over allegations of sexual harassment. In a statement, 21st Century Fox said, "After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel." O'Reilly has denied any wrongdoing.

    (Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017)

    The company has had 346 crashes over two years, including three resulting in deaths and 142 with injuries, federal figures show. During that period, it had 53 incidents involving unsafe driving violations.

    Associated Press writer Claire Galofaro contributed to this report. It has been corrected to show there were 37 children on the bus, not 35.