No Injuries in TRF School Bus Incident 01 Mar 17

Superintendent Bradley Bergstrom confirms no injuries, but it was a wild ride for a handful of Franklin Students caught in a School District Cargo Trailer as their bus pulled away from Lincoln High School Monday afternoon.

According to Bergstrom and the students; the children were at Lincoln to practice for Monday’s High School Orchestra Concert, the bus fully unloaded but a group of students still taking instruments from the trailer, when the bus pulled ahead – the trailer still attached – the unsecured rear trailer doors swinging open, with several students still inside.

One student jumped clear of the trailer at Lincoln, another jumped as the unit pulled up to a stop sign, the rest found a foot hold inside the trailer and rode it out as the unit made its way along city streets and turned down the incline off of Zeh, finally coming to a stop in the fuel pit area at the district bus garage.

Less than a half dozen students were involved; the bus ultimately returning the children to their concert practice at Lincoln. Students report their adviser, Derek Druse, shouting and running after the bus and Transportation Director Ron Skallet says he was on the phone with Druse as the bus pulled up at transportation Monday. The incident was addressed Tuesday with a variety of Administrative, Safety Committee and Drivers Meetings resulting in a “No Touch Policy” stipulating it will be the driver, not the coach or adult supervisor, who seals up and secures cargo units.

In fact, Transportation Director Ron Skallet said Tuesday district policy already stipulates drivers check to see units have been secured, a policy that was disregarded for unknown reasons Monday – although Skallet says the driver was distracted as he disciplined a student for walking on top of the seats.

This is the fourth student involved incident for District Transportation in just over two years.

In January a Thief River Falls School Bus with three children on-board was involved in a minor accident at the intersection of Highway #32 and Oakland Park Road. The bus driver in that case was cited by the Minnesota State Patrol for, “failure to yield right of way at a stop sign.” That also resulted in a change in protocol and policy changes also followed two accidents where investigations showed the bus driver was not at fault; the death of Challenger Elementary Student Anthony Fellman – struck during a bus stop last October – and 6 children who were treated at Sanford Medical Center in Thief River Falls following an accident at an uncontrolled city intersection in November of 2015.