MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 26-year-old man was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison after he drunkenly drove a car through a Metro Transit bus last summer in St. Paul, killing one passenger and seriously hurting another.
Tyler Bjelland, of Minneapolis, was sentenced to 120 months in prison for criminal vehicular operation in connection to the July 21 crash, court officials in Ramsey County say.
According to a criminal complaint, the crash happened at the intersection of Dale Street and Charles Avenue in the city’s Frogtown neighborhood.
Bjelland was speeding up to 70 mph on residential streets when he blew through a stop sign, hit a median, went airborne, and tore right through a Metro Transit bus.
One of the passengers, 48-year-old Kenneth Foster of St. Paul, was killed. He left behind six children.
Another passenger, Markus Jackson, was critically injured.
Prior to the fatal crash, Bjelland was involved in a minor crash. He also sideswiped another car after tearing through the bus.
Forgiveness is the most important lesson Markus Jackson carries with him ever since the day his life, and that of many others changed, at the intersection of Dale Street and Charles Avenue in St. Paul.
“I felt really different, really hard to look in the mirror,” he said of his recovery.
Jackson had a portion of his skull removed after he survived a horrific crash last summer.
He was riding in a city bus when Tyler Bjelland’s car came barreling through at reportedly 70 miles per hour.
Another passenger, 48-year-old Kenneth Foster, was killed.
Bjelland pleaded guilty. At his sentencing, where he received 10 years, Jackson says he and Foster’s family made it a point to sincerely forgive Bjelland.
“It felt that it was a necessary start for me to heal in an emotional stage and also for him to heal,” said Jackson. “It wouldn’t hurt anything for me to forgive him and it wouldn’t help me to be angry at him.”
After an emotional day in the courtroom, one might understand if Jackson took the rest of the day off. But he didn’t. He instead went to St. Paul College for his psychology class. It’s what he wants to major in and eventually make a career out by of helping others who’ve also gone through trauma.”
“I just want to have an impact on people. And I love to talk and communicate and deal with people’s problems or just be a resource for them to talk to,” he said.
Years from now that person could very well be Bjelland or someone like him.
“I pray that he helps other people when he gets out,” said Jackson.
Although Jackson has emotionally and physically healed, he says it’s the endless medical bills that have been most difficult to overcome. He still has several follow up appointments related to his head injury. He added that Bjelland wasn’t insured when the crash happened.
If you’d like to help Jackson pay for his medical costs, click here.