On May 30, the last day of school, 13-year-old Alexis Schwartz was about to board her bus when she was hit with dust from the gravel road as a semi-trailer truck sped between her and the bus in an illegal maneuver. The Hawick, Minnesota student told KTSP 5 Eyewitness News, "It came out of nowhere and tried to hurt me, the dust kicked up on me and then I had to step back because that just freaked me out and made my heart go crazy." The Star Tribune reports that Schwartz estimated that the semi missed her by just an inch and a half.
Dash cam video from the school bus shows Schwartz waiting at the end of her driveway, the bus coming to a stop, and then the semi flying by on the passenger side. Per his normal routine, Mike Egerman, the school bus driver, made the stop, put up the stop arm, and said two vehicles were stopped behind him. The driver said he saw Alexis take one step towards the bus and then the semi drove by at about 45 to 50 miles per hour. Egerman recalled, “…as soon as that semi went by, I couldn’t see her. I thought she was under the semi. I thought she was dead. And all of the sudden, the dust cleared, and there she stood.” Tracy Adams, Alexis’ mom, said, "It's mind blowing to see how close it came." Fortunately Alexis had been taught by her mother to wait a safe distance back from the road until the bus comes to a stop. That lesson may just have been what saved the teen’s life. Adams told KMSP Fox 9, "I was in tears. I was terrified for her. I mean if she hadn't been paying attention, she could have been dead. That truck could have killed her.”
The semi reportedly just kept going and the driver made no attempt to slow down or check on those that were behind. Fortunately, Alexis was uninjured, as was the bus driver, who had no passengers in the bus at the time.
A search began for the driver that illegally passed the school bus. In a press conference, State Patrol Lieutenant Eric Roeske said, "You think about the consequences had that child not been back from the roadway or had this been just a few seconds later as the child may have been approaching the bus, we would have been talking about a much different situation." Lt. Roeske added that this incident should serve as a reminder to all drivers that, "If you see a school bus, you have to expect that it may be stopping unexpectedly and give it some extra room and be aware."
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety posted the bus dash cam video to YouTube and late Tuesday night the driver contacted the State Patrol to turn himself in.
Minnesota law says that drivers must stop 20 feet from a stopped school bus displaying a stop-arm signal and flashing red lights. Also, passing on the right-hand side of a school bus is prohibited when the bus is displaying pre-warning flashing amber signals. Failing to adhere to those laws is a gross misdemeanor and punishable by a minimum fine of $300.
Alexis’ mom wants the semi driver held accountable for his actions, but for now is grateful that her daughter is safe, saying, "Somebody was looking out for her that day. So, I thank God every day."
- school bus