Official: 6 dead in Chattanooga elementary school bus crash

Bruce Garner/Chattanooga Fire Department photo via Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
Bruce Garner/Chattanooga Fire Department photo via Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Bloodied students lay on stretchers, while other children walked away dazed with their parents after an elementary school bus crash that killed six Monday in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga police Chief Fred Fletcher said the crash was “every public safety professional’s worst nightmare.”

The bus was carrying 35 children from Woodmore Elementary, students in kindergarten through fifth grade, when it crashed about 3:30 p.m., turned on its side and wrapped around a tree.

Fletcher said police were interviewing the bus driver to determine what happened and told reporters later that investigators were looking at speed “very, very strongly” as a factor. The bus was the only vehicle involved but the crash scene covers a significant area, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that a team would be heading to Chattanooga on Tuesday morning to investigate.

Twenty-three students were taken to hospitals, Fletcher said, but he did not have information about the extent of their injuries. Media reported it took about two hours to get the last children off the bus.

Television stations reported that people lined up to donate blood and some donors were asked to make appointments for Tuesday.

Kirk Kelly, interim superintendent for Hamilton County schools, said classes would be held on Tuesday, with counselors available for students and staff.

Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston told media outlets that five people died at the scene and one died at the hospital. Melydia Clewell, the district attorney’s spokeswoman, confirmed the number.

Chattanooga police Assistant Chief Tracy Arnold said officials would not identify the students who died, or their ages, until parents were notified.

“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,” Fletcher said.

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.”

WFLA.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s