Larimore, N.D. mourns student, driver killed in school bus-train crash

A 17-year-old student and a bus driver near Grand Forks, N.D. were killed in a train and bus collision on Monday afternoon after the bus driver failed to yield at the intersection. VIEW PHOTOS

In mourning, the community created a Twitter hashtag, #LarimoreStrong, accompanied by a photo of 17-year-old Cassidy Sandstrom and 62-year-old Max Danner, each lost in the crash.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol confirmed a Larimore Public Schools bus was traveling north on a gravel road about 30 minutes west of Grand Forks around 3:46 p.m. when it was struck on the passenger side near the doors by a westbound BNSF train.

For Shannon Sand, the tragedy on the train tracks is personal. A graduate of Larimore High School, she grew up there, and knows the rural highways and the rail crossings.

"You always think it's never going to happen in your town," Sand said.

Danner was one of her shop teachers. So much of this investigation is now focused on Danner, a veteran educator, beloved in the tiny community.

"I had him in eighth grade for woodworking. First time I ever used power tools thanks to him. Very well liked, not just in school, but in the community as well. Everyone knows Mr. Danner," she said. "He kinda was a father figure to the kids as well. People would actually go to him almost as counselor, too, because he was almost a father figure for the high school kids."

Sandstrom and Danner were ejected from the school bus and killed. Twelve other students were injured, their ages range from 5 to 16. The train engineer was Keith Erickson, 55, of Lake Park, Minn. and the train conductor was 32-year-old Paula Randall of West Fargo. Their names will be released today at 4 p.m.

There were 14 people on the bus at the time of the collision after some students had already been dropped off.Forum News reported the bus failed to yield near the intersection of Grand Forks County Road 4. The intersection is equipped with a stop sign and railroad signs, but there are no crossing arms. The front end of the bus was crushed and was facing the tracks.

The Larimore Elementary School principal, the superintendent and several school board members were all on-scene, along with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, several Grand Forks sheriff's deputies and a deputy from the Larimore Police Department.
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