CHATTANOOGA - A little over a year ago, Olivet Baptist Church Bishop Kevin L. Adams Sr. opened his sanctuary to a city shocked and grieving.
“Chattanooga shall be forever known as a city of our God,” he said about 24 hours after a terrorist’s deadly rampage killed a Navy sailor and four Marines, including Marietta native Skip Wells.
On Tuesday, Adams was again mourning the loss of five lives. This time, the five children who perished in a school bus crash about a mile from Woodmore Elementary School.
“It’s difficult to make sense of it,” said Adams, who said the fatal wreck was the worst event he’s dealt with in 26 years as a clergyman.
Interim Hamilton County Superintendent Kirk Kelly said 37 students were involved in the crash, which happened just about a mile from the school. Five died, one boy and four girls. There were three fourth graders, one kindergartner and a first grader among the fatalities. Six students are in ICU, six are in regular hospital rooms and other injured students have been released to recover at home, Kelly said.
Earlier reports indicated that fatalities could number six, and officials join parents and community members in praying it does not rise.
Bus driver Johnthony Walker, 24, has been charged with five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, the Chattanooga Police Department said. Walker works for a company the school system contracts with for bus drivers, Kelly said.
Adams and a number of other faith leaders were at Woodmore on Tuesday, the day before school let out for Thanksgiving, as students learned the sad news. A number of his church’s families are represented at Woodmore, so many of the kids at school came up to him, crying and needing a hug, he said.
“We have to be a great city to be trusted with such tragedies,” he said. “You don’t become weaker. You become stronger. You don’t become bitter. You become better. This city has an amazing way of standing strong. We are Chattanooga Strong.”
- After Chattanooga shooting, a veteran laments: “None of us are safe, are we?”
- Interfaith service brought Chattanooga together after terror rampage
- Marine Lance Cpl. Skip Wells remembered for faith, courage
- The somber vigil for Skip Wells at Sprayberry High School, his alma mater
- Skip Wells’ flag-draped coffin given heroes’ welcome
- Marietta’s tribute to Skip Wells
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.