Sixth Child Dies After Tennessee Elementary School Bus Crash: Police
A sixth child has died on Wednesday after a Chattanooga, Tennessee bus crashed and wrapped around a tree on Monday afternoon, officials confirm.
The driver, Johnthony Walker, was charged with five counts of vehicular homicide after five elementary school students died in the crash.
Walker, 24, deviated from his designated bus route before the car overturned, according to officials on Wednesday. The driver was also charged with reckless endangerment and reckless driving after his bus smashed into a mailbox, a utility pole and a tree on Talley Road.
A toxicology test by state officials indicated that Walker did not have drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
Authorities have not identified the first five children who died, but family members, friends and local media reports did. The Woodmore Elementary School students — none older than 10 — were D’Myunn Brown, 6; Zyanna Harris, 10; Cordayja Jones, 9; Zyaira Mateen, 6; and 9-year-old Zoie Nash.
The sixth child has not been identified.
The students have been described as sweet, lovable spirits. Zyanna liked to dance — as did Zoie, the only girl in her family, who also played softball. Cordayja was “always smiling.”
Chattanooga police Sgt. Austin Garrett announced findings of the ongoing investigation at a news conference on Wednesday. He said authorities will continue to review audio and video evidence from the bus’s black box and other cameras on the vehicle.
“It seems like a dream,” Zoie’s mother told PEOPLE. “It hasn’t hit me yet.” She described her little girl as “quiet” but also a “people person who enjoyed life.”
Cordayja’s aunt told PEOPLE, “She was always the happy person and never sad. She didn’t meet any strangers. She was my niece but my baby, too.”
Police said 37 students were on board the bus when it crashed, according to multiple reports. In addition to the fatalities, several students were critically injured in the crash.