CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Six people were killed Monday when a Chattanooga school bus with 35 young children aboard crashed, turned on its side and wrapped around a tree, according to the district attorney.
Police say the driver has been arrested.
Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher says 24-year-old Johnthony Walker has been charged with five counts each of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
Fletcher says additional charges may be added as the case proceeds to a grand jury.
The school bus was mangled around a tree at the scene. Police say the students on the bus ranged from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The bus was carrying students from Woodmore Elementary.
Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston told media outlets that five people died at the scene and one died at the hospital. Melydia Clewell, spokeswoman for the district attorney, confirmed the number.
Previously, Chattanooga Police Assistant Chief Tracy Arnold said officials would not identify the students who died, or their ages, until parents were notified. Twenty-three children were brought to hospitals, officials said.
The bus was carrying students from Woodmore Elementary ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.
“Our hearts go out, as well as the hearts of all these people behind me, to the families, the neighborhood, the school, for all the people involved in this, we assure you we are doing everything we can,” Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
Fletcher said at a news conference that the bus was the only vehicle involved in the crash.
At the state Capitol in Nashville, Gov. Bill Haslam called the crash “a tragic event” and offered assistance.
“We’re going to do everything we can to assist in any way,” Haslam said. “It’s a sad situation anytime there’s a school bus with children involved, which there is in this case.”
Fletcher said police were interviewing the bus driver to determine what happened.