Bus Driver Will Not Face Charges In Tragic Bus Accident

Friday, April 18, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Sergeant Tommy Sturdivan announced in a Friday afternoon press conference that the investigation into the death of six-year-old Zackery Bryant at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been officially declared complete and that there will be no criminal charges.

Zackery died tragically on Monday morning after being hit by a school bus after stepping off. According to Sgt. Sturdivan, police reviewed school videos and came to the conclusion that Zackery had walked in front of the front right tire of the bus, out of the driver's range of vision.

Sgt. Sturdivan said it appeared Zackery had dropped an electronic game device and had been bending over to pick it up. He said from what they found, the corner of the front bumper had caught the mesh on Zackery's backpack and pulled the child down when the bus started to move.

According to the coroner, the autopsy on Wednesday showed the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head. 

When asked about the driver, Sgt. Sturdivan said there were no signs the incident was anything but a tragic accident. The driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

He said, "He was obviously shaken and distraught but there was nothing to indicate he was under the influence of anything that day, nothing...He never would have been able to see him where he was in front of the bus." 

An employee of the school system for the past six years, he was described as someone who "took his job seriously" and "loved his students."

The bus was also investigated, but no signs were found of any kind of malfunction. 

Sgt. Sturdivan said, "It's been a very difficult week." He said for him personally, this was the hardest investigation he has ever participated in.

Walker County Superintendent of Schools Damon Raines said, "You're obviously trained for safety at your school but you never expect anything this devastating."

He said because a school employee and an onsite police officer reacted quickly, the number of people who saw the incident was minimal. He also said counselors from other schools had been at Chattanooga Valley Elementary all week in case any students needed to talk. Students have been encouraged to seek further grief counseling if needed. 

Mr. Raines said, "This is understandably difficult for the Bryant family, and our hearts continue to go out to them. But also to the driver, because he will have to live with this."

Sgt. Sturdivan also told members of the media that the family has requested no one show the security video of the incident.

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news. Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like us on Facebook ... (click for more)

UTC Employee Charged In Theft At 2nd Job At Mall

A UTC employee has been charged in a theft from a second job at JC Penney at Hamilton Place Mall. Police said Jason Harville, 32, took some $2,500 over the course of a year from the store. He is also the director of student transition services for UTC. UTC officials said his employment is under review. When a detective arrived at Penneys, he found Harville being held ... (click for more)

Children Should Not Get Holiday For Solar Eclipse

Re: County Schools to close for the solar eclipse: What a waste of an educational opportunity. The local folks in-charge of the Hamilton County, Tn., school system just announced that they are going to cancel school on Aug. 21 the day of the eclipse.  To protect the children from being on the school bus during the time of the eclipse.  It will be dark and other ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Jake, A Great Man

When Bob McKamey was 18 years old, the late Hitch Grimes came home on furlough from the Marine Corps and brought a handsome, energetic friend with him, Jake Butcher. “That was 64 years ago and that’s when it started, one of the greatest friendships of my life. Talking about Jake is like picking up a book with 1,000 pages and opening it to a random page. Only you can hardly put it ... (click for more)

Barons Batter Lookouts Again Thursday As Chattanooga Loses, 9-6

Danny Mendick hit a two-run double in the third inning, and Keon Barnum homered and had two hits as the Birmingham Barons defeated the Chattanooga Lookouts 9-6 on Thursday. The double by Mendick, part of a three-run inning, gave the Barons a 2-1 lead before Hunter Jones hit an RBI double later in the inning. Trailing 7-2, the Lookouts cut into the deficit in the sixth inning ... (click for more)

SEC Annouces Television Schedule For First Three Weeks Of 2017 Season

The SEC Office on Tuesday announced the start times for games on the SEC Network during the first three weeks of the 2017 season.   The SEC Network Saturday schedule opens with three games on September 2 .  The Network will air six games on the second week of the season and five games in Week 3.  The first Conference matchup of the year on the ... (click for more)