UPDATE: Post-crash bus inspection finds no mechanical issues; driver fell asleep at wheel

Becky Campbell • Updated Feb 28, 2018 at 1:33 PM

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials said the driver of a Washington County school bus told investigators he fell asleep at the wheel as he was transporting children home Tuesday, leading to a crash on a winding rural road.

Though some students involved in the crash said they believed the bus might have broken an axle or another part of its suspension before plowing into a ditch and a tree, the state investigation showed no pre-existing mechanical issues at the time of the crash.

According to the crash report, the driver, Lanty Ross Lindley, 68, and five students were transported to an area hospital for treatment for minor injuries.

At the hospital, Lindley told THP investigators he was tired and had fallen asleep. He was charged with failure to exercise due care.

Reported earlier:

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials were conducting a post-crash inspection Wednesday morning of a Washington County school bus that wrecked on Cherokee Mountain Road Tuesday afternoon, a department spokesman said.

“We are currently doing a post crash inspection on the equipment,” Lt. Richard Garrison said in response to an email from the Press. “We won’t have this information until later this evening.”

The 2008 Thomas School Bus was headed down Cherokee Mountain Road around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday while taking David Crockett High School students home from school when the driver apparently lost control and crashed into a tree. It happened near Pete Foister Lane. The 17 students on the bus were able to get off the bus and four were transported to an area hospital by Washington County/Johnson City EMS. Officials at the scene said those injuries were minor.

The driver, 68-year-old Lanty Ross Lindley, Jonesborough, had to be extricated from the bus and had more serious injuries, but EMS Chief Dan Wheeley said they were not life threatening.

A tweet sent out on the Washington County Schools Twitter page later Tuesday stated that, “Today there was an accident involving 1 of our buses. Four Ss were transported to the hospital for treatment; thankfully, no one was seriously injured. We are working with the authorities to investigate the cause of the accident. Our paramount concern is the safety of our Ss,” but there has been no other comment from Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton or any official at central office.

According to a preliminary crash report from the THP, Lindley was going around a curve and “failed to maintain his lane of travel, leaving the roadway to the left. The school bus then struck a ditch then a standing tree.”

Some information released Tuesday regarding the number of students and number of patients was different on the THP report. Scene officials said 17 students were on board and four people were transported. The crash report indicated 16 students were on board and five people were transported.

Lindley was wearing his seatbelt, which is required for school bus drivers.

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