KNOXVILLE (WATE) – One of the bus drivers involved in last December’s deadly school bus crash in Knox County has died.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office says James Davenport, 48, died Monday night at a home on Maynardville Pike. The cause of death is listed with the sheriff’s office as natural causes.
“We regret to learn of the passing of James Davenport,” said Dr. Jim McIntyre, Superintendent of the Knox County Schools. “As the Sunnyview and Chilhowee school communities continue to grieve and heal from the tragedy in December, we will also extend our prayers to the Davenport family.”
Davenport was driving bus 44 serving Chilhowee Intermediate School on Asheville Highway on December 2, 2014, when his bus swerved over the concrete median, crashing into the side bus 57 serving Sunnyview Primary School. Zykia Burns, 6, and Seraya Glasper, 7, both students at Sunnyview Primary School were killed in the crash, as was teacher’s aide Kimberly Riddle, 46.
It was later learned the driver of bus 57, Joe Gallman, was not properly licensed to drive a school bus.
The Knoxville Police Department said last month that the investigation into the crash is ongoing and multiple agencies are still conducting tests.
“We’re still waiting on the results of some evidence that we sent off to a lab for testing. Once we get that back, we’ll be able to wrap up the investigation and turn it over to the DA’s office for their review,” said Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell DeBusk.
NTSB is also investigating the crash, and has said the investigation could take up to a year.
In the meantime, the families of two of the victims are expected to take legal action. In a statement, their attorney, Greg Isaacs, said:
“This is a very tragic and unfortunate situation. Although our sympathies go out to the driver’s family, my focus is on my clients, who lost their loved ones in this terrible tragedy. Both Jeff Riddle and Sharon Glasper are individuals of tremendous faith and courage as they deal with the loss of their loved ones. I anticipate our firm filing a wrongful death lawsuit on their respected behalf in the very near future.”
Davenport’s body was taken to the Knox County Medical Examiner’s Office where an official cause of death will be determined.