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.

Todd Pangle Named Dalton Fire Chief

The Dalton Public Safety Commission voted unanimously to confirm Todd Pangle as the Dalton Fire Chief at its monthly meeting this morning. Mr. Pangle has served the fire department nearly 20 years and has been the Deputy Fire Chief since March 2015. He was one of three candidates to replace Chief Bruce Satterfield, who is retiring at the end of April. Mr. Pangle rose through ... (click for more)

Woman Who Was Selling Meth From Cleveland Motel Room Pleads Guilty In Federal Court

A woman who was selling meth from a Cleveland, Tn., motel room has pleaded guilty in Federal Court to conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of meth. Kimberly Pickett appeared before Judge Sandy Mattice. She faces at least 10 years in prison at sentencing on June 26, prosecutors said. Agents last June were told that a female named Kim was selling meth at the Colonial ... (click for more)

Slaxxon Regret - And Response

Back in the seventies my three oldest brothers had a buddy named Steve Slack. “Slack” was a star soccer player at Baylor and he grew up on Lookout Mountain, which is where I grew up. He and Jimmy, Henry and Bill went to the University of Virginia where they were roommates in an old, beat up house that was painted pink. Naturally, the place became known as the “Pink Palace” but lest ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oh Yes, I Loved West

One of my most beloved friends died early Saturday morning at the age of 67. Then again, West Oehmig’s only brother – King – died a couple of years ago at 63 so it wasn’t by happenstance I remembered Abraham Lincoln’s famous line: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Here are two brothers who lived larger than any other pair I can ... (click for more)

Central's Parrott Throttles Ooltewah With 1-Hit Shutout

Ooltewah looked like it was still on spring break. Central was sharp, Brooke Parrott dazzling, Mikayla Gill swung the bat well and the Lady Pounders played like an unbeaten, once-tied ballclub. Parrott threw a one-hit shutout – the hit was a wind-blown pop on the infield – and Gill slapped a two-run double off Kayla Boseman to right-center field in the third inning and ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Thumps Bledsoe Co., 11-1

The Notre Dame baseball team was in a race of a different kind Monday evening and the Fighting Irish came out on top in all three categories. Facing the Bledsoe County Warriors at Notre Dame’s Hunter Field, the Irish beat the rain, they got finished before dark and most importantly, beat the Warriors 11-1 in five innings as they improved to 4-2 overall with the same record in ... (click for more)