Knoxville police: Driver in deadly Knox County bus crash was texting

Local News

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – After more than a six month investigation, Knoxville Police Department said the driver of a Knox County school bus that crashed into another bus, killing three, was distracted due to sending and receiving text messages.

The driver of bus #44 from Chillhowee Intermediate, James Davenport, sent and received multiple text messages leading up to the crash, according to Knoxville Police Department.

The bus Davenport was driving served over a concrete median, crashing into the side of bus #57 from Sunnyview Primary School. Zykia Burns, 6, and Seraya Glasper, 7, both students at Sunnyview Primary School were killed in the crash, and teacher’s aide Kimberly Riddle, 46.

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Davenport died of natural causes on Monday according to Knox County Sheriff’s Office, but they are still waiting for autopsy results.

Knoxville police said over the course of the past two days, investigators have met with victims’ family members to share the results of the investigation.

The District Attorney’s Office said in a press conference on Thursday that the office is “legally unable to pursue criminal charges” on Davenport, due to his death.

“We always want to seek justice,” said Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kyle Hixson. “The fact that in some measure the families were not able to have this is upsetting.”

Previous story: Driver in deadly 2014 Knox County school bus crash dies

This has been a very difficult procedure for all involved, and hopefully, this has provided the families another step in their healing process,” Knoxville Police Department released in a statement.

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Related story: Knox County director of schools outraged that driver in deadly bus crash was texting

Texting and driving concerns

Knox County Deputy District Attorney General Kyle Hixson says texting and driving and distracted driving is deadly.

“It’s been shown that texting while driving distracts the driver even more than if they were impaired by drugs or alcohol so yes it is obviously a very serious situation,” said Hixson.

Knoxville police spokesperson Darrell DeBusk says despite this tragic crash, people will probably not stop driving distracted.

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“They always think it will happen to somebody else. It won’t happen to me. But it can happen to anyone at any time regardless of your age, regardless of how fast or how slow you are going.  It just takes a brief second to take your eyes off the roadway,” said DeBusk.

DeBusk says KPD does not take distracted driving lightly.  In 2013, KPD issued 566 citations for careless and distracted driving and texting violations. Last year they issued 575 citations for these offenses.

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