A school bus driver was texting before a crash that killed two children and an aspiring teacher in Knoxville, Tenn., last year, police said Friday, but he cannot be charged because he died this week.
The developments followed a months-long investigation into the Dec. 2 collision of two buses, one from an intermediate school and one from the primary school. All of the fatalities were on the primary school bus.
At the time of the crash, investigators said, the bus from the intermediate school, being driven by James Davenport, made a sharp left turn, crossed a median, and smashed into the second bus. The dead were Zyquese Burns, 6; Serya Glasper, 8; and Kimberly Riddle, 46.
On Friday, Knoxville police released a statement confirming that the cause of the crash was driver distraction due to texting by Davenport.
"The results of the investigation has shown that the driver of bus #44, Mr. Davenport, was driving while distracted due to sending and receiving text messages. Multiple text messages had been sent and received during the time leading up to the crash," police said in a statement.
Police added that the investigative file had been turned over to the Knox County district attorney's office. Deputy District Atty. Gen. Kyle Hixson, though, said Davenport's death ruled out charges being filed.
"We always want to see justice," Hixson told reporters. "So the fact that in some measure these families were not able to have that, that is upsetting. It does end any criminal liability for Mr. Davenport."
Davenport, 48, died Monday of what officials have called "natural causes."
Hixson said it was unclear if the person who was sending texts to Davenport could face charges in connection with the crash.
"That would be a very interesting theory," he said. "It would be very difficult to prove that perhaps."
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