Personal Injury Lawyers Receive More Information On Bus Crash

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Personal injury lawyers received an investigative document released Tuesday in the fatal December crash involving two Knox County school buses that is shedding light on licensure lapses for one of the drivers.

Joe B. Gallman, 68, was driving a bus carrying students from Sunnyview Primary School at the end of the school day Dec. 2, 2014. Gallman’s bus was struck by a bus driven by James Davenport when Davenport suddenly veered across Asheville Highway.

Two children and a teacher’s aide on Gallman’s bus died in the crash and numerous children suffered injuries. Davenport, who had been carrying children from Chilhowee Intermediate School, died earlier this month from what authorities say were natural causes.

Evidence released this month shows Davenport, 48, had been texting before the crash.

At the time of the crash, Gallman lacked official authorization from the state of Tennessee to drive a school bus, state Department of Safety officials have said.

On Tuesday, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office released to 10News the investigative file of the bus crash. Included in the file is a memo, dated 10 days after the December crash, prepared by Betty Wagner, who worked at the Strawberry Plains examining office.

On Aug. 2, 2013, Wagner recalled, Gallman went to the Strawberry Plains drivers license station to add a “school bus endorsement” to his driver’s license so he could transport school children. Gallman had driven buses for years.

Gallman was incorrectly certified as having passed the test that day and secured the endorsement, according to Wagner. But he still needed to take a commercial driver’s license skills test, according to Wagner. She told him that he lacked that, and she “caught the error and had it fixed,” according to her memo.

“He (Gallman) got a little agitated but accepted it,” Wagner recalled in her memo.

The driver returned to the station Aug. 13, accompanied according to Wagner by employer Scottie Fawver. He failed to pass the CDL skills test, according to Wagner, “and was told he needed to reschedule to complete the test.”

According to Wagner, Gallman became agitated again.

Related:Three lawsuits filed against driver in fatal bus crash

More:Knox County Schools to review all bus driver licenses

“He stated that he wouldn’t retest, that he just wasn’t going to drive a school bus. I told him that it was his decision but that he had time to change his mind.”

Gallman and Fawver conferred. Then they left and Wagner didn’t see them again.

Knox County Schools subsequently vouched for Gallman that he had all documentation needed to drive a school bus. According to Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre, the documentation provided by Gallman showed he had the appropriate qualifications to be put on the driver eligibility roster.

After the crash, however, school officials learned Gallman had in fact failed to meet all licensure requirements.

According to a license provided to 10News previously by the school system, Gallman’s driver license on record from Aug. 2, 2013, showed a class “BM.” The “B” is for CDL and the “M” is for motorcycle, according to Dalya Qualls, a state Department of Safety spokeswoman. The back of the license allows for Gallman to operate trucks/buses over a specified weight.

Qualls said Gallman was issued a valid CDL license but only with a permit that allowed him to drive a school bus with another licensed school bus endorsement holder on the bus. On the day of the crash, he was driving by himself.

Gallman no longer drives school buses in the Knox County system.

After questions emerged about driver licensures, Knox County Schools conducted a review of all licenses held by bus drivers.

Gallman filed a lawsuit April 14 against Davenport and the owner of Davenport’s bus, Robert Burroughs, for personal injury.

In the lawsuit, Gallman claimed he suffered severe and permanent personal injuries, including both physical and mental injuries, as a result of Davenport’s failure to maintain control of the bus, stay in his lane and exercise due caution.

His lawsuit seeks $1.5 million in damages and asks for a jury trial. is shedding light on licensure lapses for one of the drivers.

Joe B. Gallman, 68, was driving a bus carrying students from Sunnyview Primary School at the end of the school day Dec. 2, 2014. Gallman’s bus was struck by a bus driven by James Davenport when Davenport suddenly veered across Asheville Highway.

Two children and a teacher’s aide on Gallman’s bus died in the crash and numerous children suffered injuries. Davenport, who had been carrying children from Chilhowee Intermediate School, died earlier this month from what authorities say were natural causes.

Evidence released this month shows Davenport, 48, had been texting before the crash.

At the time of the crash, Gallman lacked official authorization from the state of Tennessee to drive a school bus, state Department of Safety officials have said.

On Tuesday, the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office released to 10News the investigative file of the bus crash. Included in the file is a memo, dated 10 days after the December crash, prepared by Betty Wagner, who worked at the Strawberry Plains examining office.

On Aug. 2, 2013, Wagner recalled, Gallman went to the Strawberry Plains drivers license station to add a “school bus endorsement” to his driver’s license so he could transport school children. Gallman had driven buses for years.

Gallman was incorrectly certified as having passed the test that day and secured the endorsement, according to Wagner. But he still needed to take a commercial driver’s license skills test, according to Wagner. She told him that he lacked that, and she “caught the error and had it fixed,” according to her memo.

“He (Gallman) got a little agitated but accepted it,” Wagner recalled in her memo.

The driver returned to the station Aug. 13, accompanied according to Wagner by employer Scottie Fawver. He failed to pass the CDL skills test, according to Wagner, “and was told he needed to reschedule to complete the test.”

According to Wagner, Gallman became agitated again.

Related:Three lawsuits filed against driver in fatal bus crash

More:Knox County Schools to review all bus driver licenses

“He stated that he wouldn’t retest, that he just wasn’t going to drive a school bus. I told him that it was his decision but that he had time to change his mind.”

Gallman and Fawver conferred. Then they left and Wagner didn’t see them again.

Knox County Schools subsequently vouched for Gallman that he had all documentation needed to drive a school bus. According to Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre, the documentation provided by Gallman showed he had the appropriate qualifications to be put on the driver eligibility roster.

After the crash, however, school officials learned Gallman had in fact failed to meet all licensure requirements.

According to a license provided to 10News previously by the school system, Gallman’s driver license on record from Aug. 2, 2013, showed a class “BM.” The “B” is for CDL and the “M” is for motorcycle, according to Dalya Qualls, a state Department of Safety spokeswoman. The back of the license allows for Gallman to operate trucks/buses over a specified weight.

Qualls said Gallman was issued a valid CDL license but only with a permit that allowed him to drive a school bus with another licensed school bus endorsement holder on the bus. On the day of the crash, he was driving by himself.

Gallman no longer drives school buses in the Knox County system.

After questions emerged about driver licensures, Knox County Schools conducted a review of all licenses held by bus drivers.

Gallman filed a lawsuit April 14 against Davenport and the owner of Davenport’s bus, Robert Burroughs, for personal injury.

In the lawsuit, Gallman claimed he suffered severe and permanent personal injuries, including both physical and mental injuries, as a result of Davenport’s failure to maintain control of the bus, stay in his lane and exercise due caution.

His lawsuit seeks $1.5 million in damages and asks for a jury trial.

By |2015-06-24T16:41:23+00:00June 24th, 2015|Legal Blog|Comments Off on Personal Injury Lawyers Receive More Information On Bus Crash