Driver Involved In Konawa Bus Crash Was Out On Bail After Recent DUI, Drug Crimes
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol tentatively identified John Edward Tallbear, 61, as the driver of an SUV that crashed into a Konawa school bus on March 8.
The collision report indicated the driver of the SUV, later referred to as Tallbear, was driving in the wrong lane of U.S. Highway 377 in Seminole County around 7:15 p.m. Friday causing a head-on collision with the school bus.
Tallbear, his passenger, and a student on the bus died in the crash. OHP did not immediately identify the young victim, but family and friends expressed their condolences on social media Saturday.
Troopers issued preliminary information about Tallbear on Saturday in an effort to identify the passenger killed.
John 'Johnny' Tallbear made headlines just nine months ago.
"I believed God would do something for me...and that this day would come," Tallbear told reporters in June 2018," The ball and chain is still in there somewhere but I'm so relieved." he said.
Exonerated by DNA evidence for the 1992 murder of a homeless man, Tallbear walked out of the Oklahoma County courtroom vowing to use his newfound freedom to help others.
He promised to fight for judicial and prison reform.
According to online court records in Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties, Tallbear veered from that plan within months of his release.
His driving records is littered with speeding offenses.
Under more scrutiny, an arrest for speeding, running a red light, and driving under the influence on Feb. 28th -- one week before the deadly bus crash.
Court records show his license had been revoked prior to the crash and he was out of jail on bond.
Digging deeper into the archives, records show Tallbear was arrested for driving with drugs and drug paraphernalia in January 2019.
A statement issued by the Konawa Public School District indicated the driver of the SUV was drunk at the time of the accident.
However, Oklahoma Highway Patrol official have not yet confirmed the claim.
OHP is looking for any information about Tallbear’s passenger or their whereabouts prior to the crash. Please call Troop D headquarters at 918-423-3636 with info.