By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Five kids are recuperating after the school bus they were in was hit Monday morning by an erratic driver.

The driver was fleeing from police when the crash happened.

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The chase began around 7 a.m. on Highway 100 in Robbinsdale. It ended after the driver struck a school bus near 42nd Avenue North and Regents Avenue.

There were 22 children on board the bus when it was hit from the rear.

Seven children complained of injuries, five of them and the bus driver were taken to North Memorial Medical Center with minor injuries.

Now police and the State Patrol are investigating.

Authorities say the car chase started with a call of a vehicle in a ditch at 36th Avenue North and Highway 100.

When Robbinsdale an officer got to the scene, the driver of that car was verbally uncooperative. The officer told the man to turn off his engine.

“At that point the driver suddenly stepped on the accelerator, pulled into lanes of traffic on Highway 100, lost control, hit another vehicle on Highway 100, spun around and left the roadway across the snow-covered median and got onto a connector road off of Highway 100,” said Robbinsdale Police Chief Jim Franzen.

He says the officer did not pursue the driver, but it didn’t take long before he was spotted again by police.

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“About a minute later, an off-duty officer saw the same vehicle on County Road 81 driving erratically, took out trees and a road sign,” Franzen said.

The driver was then spotted driving the wrong way on 42nd Avenue North.

“That’s when that vehicle rear-ended the moving school bus,” Franzen said.

Emergency crews responded immediately.

The children, ages 9 to 14, were on their way to the FAIR school in Crystal.

The bus was evacuated, with five students taken to the hospital. The others were loaded on another bus and taken to school.

Parents were notified and all the other children who were on the bus were checked out by school nurses when they arrived.

“The school has been very good about communication and letting families know what is going on,” said FAIR school parent Toni Knorr.

The driver of the car, 28-year-old Argeni Fernandez, was arrested and is waiting to be charged. According to State Patrol’s incident report, alcohol was a factor in the crash.

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(credit: Robbinsdale police)

Reg Chapman