Updated: Bemidji Bus Crash
Driving conditions were considered near perfect this morning when the accident happened. Bemidji Area School’s bus 25 was traveling southbound on Irvine Avenue when an eastbound driver on South Movil Lake Road drove through a stop sign and struck the bus on its right side. That caused the bus to lose control and swerve onto the west side of Irvine Avenue and then roll on its side into the ditch, injuring many of the bus’s occupants.
Authorities believe the driver was not from the area and was unfamiliar with the road and may not have seen the stop sign because he might have been blinded by the morning sun. The sound of the crash was so loud that residents down the road thought there was an explosion and hurried outside to take a look.
Local residents and rescue crews quickly extracted the students from the bus, and those who appeared to not be injured were transferred to another bus. Many of them suffering only bumps and bruises. Two children were pinned inside the busing, and one had to be extricated by the Bemidji Fire Department. Five students were transferred by ambulance and one was airlifted to the emergency room at Sanford Hospital in Bemidji. The Bemidji School District says the students on the bus were traveling to different schools.
As soon as the Bemidji School District got word of the crash, the district quickly enacted its crisis plan.
Onlookers at the scene felt the magnitude of the crash and are hoping and praying for the best.
The Bemidji School District and Sanford Hospital staff handled crisis care with additional assistance from the Upper Mississippi Mental Health Center and several area pastors.
The driver of the vehicle who struck the bus was rushed by ambulance from the scene to Sanford Hospital and was listed in serious condition.
Sanford Health also put in place a hotline for parents who were seeking additional information to call right after the crash.