Reporting John Lauritsen
WAYZATA, Minn. (WCCO) – On March 18, 15-year-old Alec O’Connell was running with the Wayzata track team when he was hit by a bus near Plymouth Creek Elementary School.
He then spent eight days in the hospital with head and leg injuries.
“I guess we were at the crosswalk at Plymouth Creek and all the cars had stopped,” O’Connell said. “We were about to run, got about halfway across and the bus came.”
And that’s the last thing O’Connell remembers. All the other cars had stopped at the crosswalk to let the runners go through. But the school bus full of students drove right through, hitting O’Connell and one of his teammates.
“He was pinned under the bus,” mother Leslee Gelman said. “His leg was pinned under the tire. And the police officer had to come and yell at the bus driver to back up to get him off his leg.”
A police officer called Gelman to tell her that her son had been in an accident. She rushed to the hospital to learn that O’Connell had a concussion, but worse yet, his femur was broken and his calf was torn all the way through the muscle. His teammate suffered a concussion and an injured hand.
It will be another eight weeks before O’Connell can walk again.
“He doesn’t have a lot of movement in his foot,” Gelman said. “He can’t put any weight on his legs. So we still have to wait and see how things heal up.”
After three surgeries, O’Connell now has a titanium rod in his leg to help him heal. He passes the time by playing video games. In some ways he feels lucky. He knows it could have been even worse.
“My coaches have visited every day,” O’Connell said. “My track team visited a lot. My friends have come. They’ve been very supportive. I’ve gotten letters from people, so the school has been very good.”
Police say the bus hit O’Connell so hard that the grill was cracked. He’ll go back to school on Monday, but will need a wheelchair.
The bus driver was ticketed, and a call to First Student Bus Company to see if any further action was taken was not returned.