Details of the Tennessee Bus Crash Will Horrify You, but Here's How You Can Help


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There are a lot of scenarios that parents would categorize as worst nightmare material, but right now, this school bus accident in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is topping our list: A bus driver transporting 35 elementary school kids home from school on Monday afternoon drove off the road and flipped, killing six kids and sending a total of 23 to the hospital.

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The details are still a bit hazy, but according to authorities, the 24-year-old bus driver, Johnthony Walker, is being charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and five counts of vehicular homicide. The Chattanooga police chief, Fred Fletcher, said that they don't know yet if speeding was the cause of the accident, but that they're looking at it "very, very strongly" as a factor.

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Here's what else we know: During the afternoon route on November 21, the driver was going "real fast" (that's according to one student's report to WDEF-TV) when he hit a garbage bag and a mailbox, then flipped over and hit a tree. The six students who died haven't been identified, but we do know that a dozen others had to spend the night in the hospital. Half of them are in the ICU. Also, the bus driver doesn't have a criminal history, but a father of two kids involved in the crash told Good Morning America he's seen Walker driving too fast before.

But maybe the scariest detail comes from a mom with three children on the bus, one of whom died in the crash. She reportedly told CBS News Radio her daughter told her the driver asked the students "are y'all ready to die?" as he started speeding around a curb.

Ugh. A bus driver is a person many parents have to trust with their child's well-being, and stories like this make us fear putting kids on the school bus. 

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The driver's mom, Gwenevere Cook, talked to CNN about the crash and said that Walker is "a marvelous son" and a hard-working dad of a 3-year-old. She said that right after the crash, he called her to tell her he had been in an accident and that he was trying to get the children off the bus.

She also expressed her condolences to the families affected and asked for compassion for her son. While we understand how difficult her situation is, we also understand how, right now, compassion is probably the last thing the families of injured children want to offer. Really, this is a terrible from all angles -- we can't imagine being in any of those parents' positions.

The only semblance of good news to come out of this awful, awful accident is the way the community has come together -- according to ABC, hundreds of people went to the local hospital to donate blood for the injured kids, and the school, Woodmore Elementary, is open and providing counseling for students and staff (as well as forgiving absences for students who choose to stay home).

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Though a few individual GoFundMe pages have been opened, according to one, the mayor of Chattanooga is asking that all donations be forwarded to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and labeled "Woodmore Fund." You can donate directly on the Community Foundation website.

Our thoughts go out to all the families affected, and we hope the students in the hospital heal quickly.

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