A mother told reporters that a Chattanooga school bus driver asked the kids onboard if they were “ready to die” prior to the crash that killed at least five children and left six others hospitalized in an intensive care unit in Tennessee Monday.
The mother, who had three children on the bus, including one who was killed in the crash, told a reporter the bus driver spoke to the children moments before the collision, according to television station WWJ-TV.
“The mother says that in the moments before the crash, the bus driver said something to the effect of ‘Are you all ready to die?’ and then seconds later, the bus was on its side and five kids were killed,” the reporter said, according to WWJ-TV.
The bus driver, identified as Johnthony Walker, 24, has been arrested and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
He could face more charges as the case proceeds to a Hamilton County grand jury, Chattanooga police Chief Fred Fletcher said.
Walker has been cooperative and talking to investigators, police said.
A National Transportation Safety Board team was expected to arrive in Chattanooga on Tuesday morning, Chairman Christopher Hart told reporters.
“Certainly, speed is being investigated very, very strongly as a factor in this crash,” Fletcher said, adding that the investigation was still at an early stage.