THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. (KMSP) - A seven-year-old boy was struck and killed by an oncoming vehicle while attempting to cross the road to catch the school bus near Thief River Falls, Minnesota Thursday morning.
A minivan traveling north on Highway 59 struck the boy on the east side while he was crossing the road at approximately 7:05 a.m., according to the Minnesota State Patrol.
The 69-year-old driver of the minivan is cooperating with investigators. The accident remains under investigation.
The boy has been identified as Anthony Fellman of Smiley Township. He was a second grader at Challenger Elementary School in the Thief River Falls School District, according to Superintendent Bradley Bergstrom. He said Anthony will be “sorely missed” and he was “a great young man.”
Bergstrom says there were about a dozen students, ranging from elementary to high school, on the bus when the crash happened. Due to standard crash protocol, a second bus came to the crash scene and took the other students to school.
Counselors were at the schools waiting to assist the students as they got off the bus. Counselors have also been working with staff and students at schools throughout the district and will continue to be available on Friday too.
Many details of the crash are still under investigation, such as whether the stop arm of the bus was deployed at the time of the incident.
Bergstrom says the bus driver is “very experienced” and one of the district's "best" and she is “extremely shaken up” by the incident.
Bergstrom says he’s thankful for the quick response by law enforcement and first responders.
“One thing about being in smaller communities, when tragedy happens, the way the people rally is really incredible,” he said.
Bergstrom posted the following message on the school district's website:
Dear Thief River Falls School Community,
I write to you with deep sadness as Challenger Elementary School lost a student today. Anthony Fellman, 7 years old, passed away as a result of a fatal pedestrian accident early this morning.
It is always difficult to understand and explain to students how such a young life can end so quickly due to a tragic accident. We expect our students will respond to this information in a wide range of ways. Sadness, memories of past loss and personal worry are normal. Please pay particular attention to your child this evening and in the coming days.
If you have questions or need additional support for your child, please contact the administrator at your child's school and they will arrange support from one of the counselors.
In addition, ISD 564 has posted a grief resource document for parents on our web page which has resources to help children cope with grief. The document is available at www.trf.k12.mn.us
Thief River Falls is a strong community built on caring and positive relationships. Every educator in this district is committed to supporting your child.
Please keep Anthony's family and friends in your thoughts at this time.
With gratitude for your support,
Brad Bergstrom, Superintendent