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Chattanooga School Bus Crash Investigation Update
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 Chattanooga School Bus Crash Investigation Update

WASHINGTON — The NTSB announced Thursday it has completed the on-scene phase of the agency’s investigation of the fatal, Nov. 21, 2016, school bus crash on Talley Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Six students died and more than 20 others were injured as a result of the single-vehicle accident in which a Hamilton County School bus, operated by Durham School Services and driven by a 24-year-old driver, hit a mailbox, a utility pole, rolled onto its right side and then collided with a tree.  The bus was carrying 37 students at the time of the crash.

NTSB investigators departed Chattanooga early Monday after completing the following work items:

Vehicle Factors Group

  • Finished school bus examination, including documenting tire DOT numbers.
  • Confirmed the brake throttle valve recall and, confirmed a replacement valve was installed as required.

Recorders Group

  • The engine control module was successfully downloaded and the data are being evaluated.
  • The NTSB’s Recorder Laboratory in Washington received the school bus video recorders and has begun downloading data.
  • Confirmed the identity of the bus anti-lock brake module manufacturer and determined the module does not contain useful electronic brake data.

Highway Group

  • Worked with the school district to receive the last 30 days of GPS download for the school bus and the route driven by the school bus driver prior to the Nov. 21 crash.
  • Continuing to examine materials received from the City of Chattanooga Transportation Department.
  • Survival Factors Grou
  • Continued working on seating chart for the 37 student passengers.
  • Human Performance Group
  • The NTSB requested an interview with the school bus driver, however, the driver declined to be interviewed on advice of legal counsel.  The NTSB continues to pursue an interview with the school bus driver.
  • Subpoenas were delivered to local hospital and mental health facility to obtain medical history of the driver.  Local pharmacies were canvassed for driver records, subpoenas delivered as appropriate.  A subpoena was delivered for the driver’s AT&T cellphone records.  A subpoena was also delivered to Amazon to obtain the bus driver’s employment record.
  • Interviewed the school principal regarding driver behavior towards students and general driver concerns.

Witness Group

  • Three witnesses to the crash response, but who did not witness the crash itself, were interviewed.  Investigators are working with the Department of Child Services to set up interviews with student passengers.  Investigators are also working with Chattanooga PD, facilitating follow-up interviews regarding the crash events and evacuation, with students who were on the bus.

Other Activities

  • Chattanooga PD and Leica scanned an exemplar school bus and accident school bus in upright position.  Received all scan data from Chattanooga PD.
  • Final work progress meeting held.

A preliminary report is expected to be published within the next few weeks, no further updates are planned until then.  Following the publication of the preliminary report, the next update will come with the opening of the accident docket and notice of the NTSB Board meeting.  The final report is likely to be ready for board review within 12 to 18 months. 

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Contact: NTSB Media Relations
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Christopher O'Neil
(202) 314-6133