A former school bus driver accused of speeding and talking on his phone before a crash in Tennessee that killed six elementary school students defended himself on the stand Wednesday, according to Channel 2 Action News.
In November 2016, Johnthony Walker lost control of a bus with 37 Woodmore Elementary School students on board. He swerved, struck a telephone pole and a tree. Walker was arrested and faces 34 charges including six counts of vehicular homicide.
Walker told the court he wasn’t on his phone while driving and said he wasn’t going 50 mph. His defense attorneys argued another car may have caused Walker to swerve.
On the stand, Walker said he maintained control of the school bus and never left his lane of travel as the other car navigated the same curve and crossed into his lane, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
"I'm thinking there's either going to be a collision or I can veer out of the way," Walker said on the stand.
Joe Warren, a Chattanooga officer who reconstructed the scene, testified Tuesday that no evidence suggested the second vehicle was in Walker's lane of travel. If it had, Warren said, there would've been a head-on collision based on tire marks.
Walker faces six counts of vehicular homicide, seven counts of assault, 17 counts of reckless aggravated assault, and one count each of reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and use of a portable device by a school bus driver. Authorities said he had no drugs or alcohol in his system.
Judge Don Poole dismissed jurors Wednesday evening and they will resume their deliberations at 8:45 a.m. Thursday, the newspaper reported.
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