The National Transportation Safety Board scheduled a May 22 meeting to discuss the special investigations report into two fatal school bus crashes that occurred in November 2016 and to make recommendations.
NTSB announced the meeting a day ahead of the scheduled sentencing of Johnthony Walker, the Durham School Services bus driver who was convicted March 1 of six counts of vehicular manslaughter and 23 other counts for the deaths of six students and the injury of two dozen others. He crashed his school bus on Nov. 21, 2016, in a residential area of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Local police claimed Walker was speeding and was talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash. Cell phone records showed Walker accepted a call via Bluetooth minutes before the crash, but a witness testified that the conversation was brief. The defense hypothesized that Walker may have mistakenly failed to hang up.
Walker testified on his own behalf and said the crash occurred when he steered out of the way of an oncoming shuttle bus that encroached on his lane and then overcorrected. The bus flipped on its side and slid into a tree, which punctured the roof.
Three weeks earlier, a school bus driver contracted by Baltimore City Schools crashed nearly head-on into an MTA bus on Nov. 1, killing himself, the transit driver and four of her passengers. The driver apparently passed out behind the wheel and rear-ended a Ford Mustang before crashing into the other bus. An aide on the school bus suffered injuries. No students were on board at the time.
The NTSB previously said school bus driver Glenn Chappell, 67, had been involved in at least 12 crashes in 2011, while driving a school bus or his personal vehicle, and had passed out at least once prior while behind the wheel. That incident also involved a crash.
But Baltimore City Schools failed to document all of the incidents, which included property damage. NTSB also discovered the school district had none of the 11 criminal charges against Chappell in his personnel file. However, he continued driving for contractor AAAfordable Transportation.
The NTSB special investigative report meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. and will be streamed live.
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