MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Metro Transit bus went out of control Friday morning on a downtown Minneapolis street when the driver suffered a medical emergency and later died.
The accident happened at about 10:10 a.m. between 10th Street and 11th Street on Nicollet Mall.
Witnesses saw the Number 10 bus drive up on the mall’s sidewalk across from the Dakota Jazz Club. It ran over garbage cans, smashed into light posts, scraped against buildings and destroyed the metal awning over the Mall Studio window of the WCCO-TV building.
WCCO Meteorologist Mike Augustyniak was walking down the mall and narrowly missed being hit.
“You do a quick calculation: Do I run away or sneak by it? Because it was moving so slowly, I decided to run toward it and around it, but had to jump over some debris that was being pushed towards me,” Augustyniak said. “The streets were empty because it’s a holiday, so I would say, all and all, lucky no pedestrians were hurt.”
A bicyclist near Augustyniak was sideswiped. He suffered some scrapes, and received medical attention at the scene.
The bus came to a stop next to Peavey Plaza on the corner of 12th Street and Nicollet Mall. Gasoline was seen spewing from the back of the bus, leaving a trail across Nicollet.
Lawrence Boykins and his daughter were passengers on the runaway bus. He had promised his daughter a morning in Loring Park, but they never thought their bus ride there would end like it did.
“All of a sudden it seemed like I was in a dream or something. All of a sudden the bus is going to the side. I told my daughter just to sit back and relax and I was going run, I tried to run up front … and try to hit the brakes or something … and that’s when I twisted my ankle,” Boykins said.
Witness Riley Coley says there were less than a dozen people on the bus at the time.
“It was like a tornado was coming to meet us, but instead we was off the street on the sidewalk just tearing down,” Coley said. “It was devastating.”
Boykins says the driver slumped over while driving. Fire Crews and an ambulance arrived soon after. The driver was put on a stretcher by emergency crews and underwent CPR.
No one else on board was injured.
Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb confirmed the death of the driver, whose name is being withheld until his family is notified.
“Metro Transit extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to the operator’s family and friends,” Lamb said. “Metro Transit operators are in many ways an extended family and this loss will be felt throughout the organization.”
Lamb says the driver has been a Metro Transit employee since 2013.