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Tennessee bus crash: Mother of driver asks for compassion

Woodmore Elementary School bus driver Johnthony Walker has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, according to Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

Woodmore Elementary School bus driver Johnthony Walker has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving, according to Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher.

(CNN) — Chattanooga school bus driver Johnthony Walker tried to pull the children off the bus, his mother told CNN. But there was too much blood.

Moments after the catastrophic crash Monday, Walker called his mother and told her what happened.

” ‘Mama, I love you. I have been in a drastic accident,’ ” Gwenevere Cook recalled her son saying. “He texted me minutes later saying the kids are dead.”

Five children died and at least 12 were hospitalized after the bus plowed into a tree and flipped over.

“He was trying to get (the children) off the bus — all the bodies were limp,” Cook said. “There was blood everywhere.”

Walker now faces five counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.

It’s still not clear what caused the accident. But one child on board told CNN affiliate WDEF-TV that the bus was traveling at high speed just before the crash.

“He was going real fast and he hit a garbage bag,” the boy said. “And we then hit a mailbox, then we flipped over and hit a tree real hard.”

Cook said her son is a responsible man and the father of a 3-year-old son.

“He is a marvelous son. For two years he worked two jobs. He’s never been in trouble before,” his mother said. “He is a respected young man, grew up in Chattanooga and is liked by everyone.”

Cook said she’s grieving for the families of the children killed — but said her son is also suffering.

“My heart of love is going out for all that was in harm’s way of God’s will,” she said. “Sending out mine and our condolences to every family that God touched yesterday in this horrible accident. And I am asking for compassion also for my son.”