ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — A school bus in St. Cloud was hit by a taxi and ended up smashing right through a duplex off 15th Avenue Southeast in St. Cloud.
With bags slung over their shoulders, carrying just bare essentials, the three men who lived in that duplex headed out to temporary Red Cross shelters. A violent start to a normally peaceful Monday morning forced them from their home.
Ronald Swenson had just left his front bedroom and was sitting in the living room when he heard the noise.
“There was a big boom. I didn’t know what was going on. My roommate come running out, he says, ‘cover your head’ … crap was falling off the walls,” Swenson recalls.
Karsten Bliss lives in the same duplex and remembers thinking something terrible had just happened.
“I just come running out of the bedroom, I thought it was the train,” said Bliss.
That violent thud they both heard was a school bus carrying about 30 elementary students heading to Talahi School just five blocks away. Shortly before 7:30 a.m. the bus was hit by a taxi carrying two students to the same school.
“Then I looked through a peephole and I see a bus and I’m like, ‘What the hell is a bus doing coming through my wall,’” said duplex resident Edward Broadfoot.
According to police investigators, the bus was heading south along 15th Avenue SE when it approached an intersection with Lincoln Avenue. The taxi was going eastbound on Lincoln Avenue and was supposed to stop before turning onto 15th Avenue.
Police said the taxi either rolled through the stop sign or failed to yield right-of-way and crashed into the bus. Police cited the taxi’s driver, 57-year-old Donald Fleming, with failure to yield.
The impact of the crash sent the bus, driven by 40-year-old Kathy Vogt, out of control. She rolled across the railroad tracks and over a curb, coming to rest in the front entrance of the duplex.
Three students and both drivers were taken to the St. Cloud hospital with minor injuries. Ronald Swenson feels lucky, he wasn’t the sixth.
“I would have been in my bedroom and I probably wouldn’t have made it or I would have been seriously injured,” said Swenson.
All of those transported to the hospital have been treated and released. The Red Cross has arranged for temporary shelter for the displaced duplex residents.