CCM artist Kirk Franklin has slammed the mother of the Chattanooga school bus driver charged with reckless endangerment in connection with Monday's deadly school bus crash that killed 5 students from Woodmore Elementary after she said the accident was "God's will".
The Grammy Award - winning artist shared his thoughts on the tragic event in a series of tweets on Tuesday. After asking his 1.14 million followers to pray for the victims and their families, Franklin said that as a Christian, he believes it's important to "speak out when God's heart is misrepresented in the society."
"It was extremely insensitive for the mother of the bus driver who killed 5 children to say 'it was god's will' for it to happen," he tweeted. "In tragedy we see in God's word to mourn with those who mourn, not have a theological conversation. Biblical illiteracy is real...I hurt today for those parents...and so should she."
Franklin's comments were made after Gwenevere Cook, the mother of the 24-year-old bus driver, Johnthony Walker, released a statement regarding the tragic incident, in which the bus swerved off the right side of the road before smacking into an elevated driveway and mailbox. The bus then careened to the left and hit a utility pole, ending up on its side against a tree. Three of the students who died were in the fourth grade, and the other children who were killed were in kindergarten and first grade.
"A word of comfort to whom it may concern. I'm being the mother of Johnthony Walker would love to say, my heart of love is going out for all that was in harm's way of God's will. Sending out mine and our condolences to every family that God touched yesterday in this horrible accident. And I am asking for compassion also for my son Johnthony Walker," she wrote.
She added, "This is a horrible accident. But this was God's will and all we can do is try to get through it with God's grace. It is a horrible nightmare. I feel bad for my son and I am torn up for the family members. All this is new to us. He was trying to get kids off the bus but there was so much blood. When he talked to me he was terrified He told me I've been in an accident, he was trying to get this kids off the bus."
Following the deadly crash -.which left five children dead and six in hospital with severe injuries, Walker was charged with 5 counts of vehicular homicide, reckless endangerment and reckless driving.
According to the full police affidavit on the crash, Walker appears to have been speeding at the time of the crash. Previous records show his driver's license had been suspended in 2014 due to failure to provide proof of insurance following a car crash.
The mother of one of the victims, Jasmine Mateen, told local NBC affiliate WRCB that she repeatedly complained about her children's school bus driver in the months before the accident. She said Walker would taunt the children, "slamming on brakes on purpose, making all the kids hit their heads."
"I've been calling y'all since August," Mateen said she told school officials. "I said, 'Now y'all doing what y'all supposed to been doing now that it's too late ... Y'all doing what y'all supposed to be doing, but my baby laying in a cold freezer.'"
She said her children complained to her about the driver, and she took the issue to the Board of Education, the school and the bus company, Durham School Services. She said she also wrote a letter to the driver, which the principal read aloud to him as she and several children watched.
"He said, 'So? I'd do it again,'" Mateen recalled.
Walker is scheduled to go before a judge later in November.