Case bound to grand jury for Chattanooga school bus driver in deadly crash

In this undated photo released by the Chattanooga Police Department, Johnthony Walker, 24, poses for a photo. Walker, the driver of a school bus that was filled with elementary students when it crashed, Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, in Chattanooga, killing at least five children, has been arrested and faces charges including vehicular homicide. (Chattanooga Police Department via AP)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — The case for the 24-year-old driver in a school bus crash that killed six children was bound to a grand jury.

Johnthony Walker took the stand during his preliminary hearing Thursday morning in Hamilton County court. He’s charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. Police say a sixth charge of vehicular homicide will be added.

During questioning, Walker’s attorney questioned Officer Warren on his educational background. Warren says this was his only school bus crash case during his 20 years.

The judge ruled, “I do find the conduct to be reckless. There was a conscious disregard for the risk. The element of recklessness has been established.”

The ruling comes over testimony from two Chattanooga Police Department traffic investigators who were on the scene of the crash shortly after it happened. Officer Joe Warren testified that he saw evidence that the bus had been speeding prior to the crash, in his estimate, somewhere between 50-52 miles per hour.

The speed limit on the road Warren crashed on was 30 miles per hour and there were several cautionary signs on the road. Walker’s attorney, Amanda Dunn, said the investigation is not complete and there are different versions of the speed he was traveling.

“There was no evidence of braking,” said Warren. “I knew right off the bat I was dealing with a bus that was going too fast.”

Officers said they saw “side-slip” tire marks, which are an indication of speeding. At one point, the bus’ rear hit a mailbox.

Warren also showed video where he said Walker could be seen using a phone while the bus was moving. Dunn said

Dunn said she expects him to plead not guilty if he’s indicted. Walker’s attorney says there’s no video evidence Walker was using phone when bus was moving, but Warren said the phone was out of view.