Chattanooga bus wreck eerily reminiscent of Tennga crash 16 years ago

A Murray County, GA school bus lies wrecked after being hit by a CSX train near Tennga, GA

As investigators try to piece together what happened yesterday on Talley Road in Chattanooga, the thoughts of many people go back 16 years ago. The bus crash at Tennga, Georgia showed us the tragedy that can come on a school bus.

Attorney Jim Logan represented Rhonda Cloer, the bus driver charged with vehicular homicide in the deaths of 3 children on that bus in March of 2000. The N-T-S-B investigated that case, as it's doing in the Chattanooga wreck. "In Tennga, it was a failure to see what was there to be seen," Logan remembers. "In the Chattanooga case, we don't know yet the explanation."

"It has to be something."

Logan says Cloer was villified in the community for not paying enough attention with the little lives she was supposed to protect. But he says, most people understood that her own child was on the Tennga bus. He says Johnanthony Walker will face tougher scrutnity. "There's not going to be any significant sympathy or compassion that will be involved here," says Logan. "It's going to be an extremely difficult time for him."

The N-T-S-B report on Tennga did not find anything mechanically wrong with Cloer's bus.. it found that she failed to stop, look at listen for trains at the railroad track. What might the government's investigation find with yesterday's accident? "Site distance, travel off the roadway, speed determination, metal deprivation," Logan says. "All those things, they'll tell the story, better than any witness could."

Logan says, as with Tennga, the next few days, weeks and months, the pain will show. "It's not going to be solved with funerals, or with the healing or lack of healing," he says. "I understand some of the children are severely injured. Let's gather together and say we're going to do something that's positive for these families."

There are now flashing lights and gates at the railroad crossing at Tennga. Logan says, the last time he spoke with Rhonda Cloer, she was working, but he says, not one day goes by that she doesn't think of the lives lost that day, 16 years ago.

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