School bus crash leaves 6 people dead


Associated Press

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 this 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 today.

Kirk Kelly, interim superintendent for Hamilton County schools, said classes would take place today, 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.

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