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Bridge dedication ceremony honors victims of deadly 2014 Knox County school bus crash

The deadly December 2014 crash killed two students and a teacher's aide.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn — A bridge was dedicated Thursday to the three victims of a deadly 2014 bus crash. The effort to honor the victims was led by State Representative Rick Staples.

RELATED: Police release names of victims killed in school bus crash

Zykia Burns, 6,  Seraya Glasper, 7, and Kimberly Riddle, 46, were killed and 27 other adults and children were injured when a bus from Chilhowee Intermediate School swerved across lanes of Asheville Highway and struck another bus that was leaving Sunnyview Primary School.

RELATED: Student recounts experience during Knox school bus crash

The dedication ceremony was held at 10 a.m. at the Milton E. Roberts Recreation Center in Knoxville.

That's near the Asheville Highway bridge that crosses the Holston River.

In addition to Rep. Staples, Senator Becky Massey, Knox County Mayor Glen Jacobs and Knox County School Superintendent Bob Thomas were present, as well as representatives from other state and local offices.

RELATED: 2 Knox Co. schools closed Wednesday after deadly bus crash

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the bus driver, 48-year-old James Davenport, for texting, backing the findings of a Knoxville Police Department Investigation.

The report said Davenport was driving Bus No. 44 while distracted due to sending and receiving text messages. He made a sharp left turn, crossed a concrete median, and crashed into another school bus on Asheville Highway near Governor John Sevier Highway.

A WBIR 10News investigation later revealed that Davenport was texting a known prostitute prior to the accident.

The crash resulted in state leaders and family members asking for stricter bus safety regulations. 

Before to the crash, drivers using an electronic device only faced a $50 fine. Now, they face a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail. 

Bus drivers can't use any electronics while they're moving or even stopped and unloading kids from the bus. 

Sharon Glasper, Seraya's mother, hopes the memorial to her daughter encourages all drivers not to text and drive.

"We came together for a happy day, but we're sad at the same time because we no longer have our loved ones. So just remember when you cross that bridge and see these three angels' names upon that bridge, don't text and drive," she said. 

Lawmakers also made changes after a deadly Chattanooga crash that killed six students in 2016.

Bus drivers must now be at least 25 years old, have five years of driving experience and must attend a safety program before getting behind the wheel.

Many are still fighting for new buses to be equipped with seat belts. Over the past several years a handful of state lawmakers have introduced bills requiring seat belts, but all of those plans have failed.


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