WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - A Washington County, Tennessee school bus driver is facing felony charges after authorities say she caused a bus crash two weeks ago.
Prosecutors announced the findings of a Tennessee Highway Patrol investigation Wednesday morning.
The Washington County, Tennessee District Attorney General, Tony Clark, said the driver, Brenda Gray, was traveling almost 60 miles per hour, nearly double the posted speed limit, on a narrow road when she lost control of the school bus. "The estimated minimum speed is 57.3 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone. That is the minimum speed, it could be more," he said.
Prosecutors place all of the blame from the September 20 crash on Gray. "In our opinion, it was reckless on her part given the duties she has as a bus driver," said Clark.
Gray was charged on Wednesday with eight counts of reckless aggravated assault, 31 counts of felony reckless endangerment, speeding, reckless driving and failure to exercise due care. She turned herself in Wednesday morning.
Prosecutors have not said what she told them about the crash. "We are still gathering information. I would rather not release what she said or what some of the students had to say," Clark said. They are also not commenting yet on the allegations that students encouraged Gray to go faster over the hills.
Accident reconstruction experts said the initial cause of the crash appears to be that Gray ran off the side of the road and overcorrected. "The bus rolled twice," said Captain Steven Street with the Tennessee Highway Patrol. "It was a corner roll, not like you think when a vehicle flips. It went corner over."
Investigators also said they found no mechanical problems with bus #88. "It appears these charges would constitute termination," said Director of Schools, Ron Dykes, about Gray's job with the school district.
Authorities said Gray had been driving a bus for six years and had a clean driving record except for one crash that did not involve a school bus.
Gray appeared in court on Wednesday and was appointed a public defender. She is in jail on a $50,000 bond.