Attorney: Bus driver suffers hearing loss, nerve damage after I-35W shooting

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A Minneapolis school bus driver is coping with permanent injuries after he was shot this winter on Interstate 35W, his attorney said Monday.

Driver Thomas Benson's attorney, James B. Sheehy, released updates on his condition just hours before the man charged in connection to the shooting appeared in court. Prosecutors charged Kenneth Lilly, 32, with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault in the incident.

According to the charges, on Feb. 5, Benson was trying to merge onto I-35W near Chicago Avenue when his bus apparently scraped the back of Lilly’s sedan. The bus driver was reportedly unaware he had hit anything. 

Video from the Minnesota Department of Transportation showed Lilly stopping his car in the lane of traffic. He got out and attempted to get on the bus. Eventually, he pulled out a handgun, walked toward the front of the bus and fired five shots into the windshield.

According to Sheehy, Benson is now deaf in his left ear and sustained nerve injuries to his hand and arm. As a result, his left hand is numb most of the day and he cannot grip properly with it.

"Mr. Benson enjoyed being a bus driver," Sheehy wrote. "He started in this position in October of 2018. Unfortunately, because of his hand injury he will not be able to work as a bus driver again. The entire incident and the injuries have had a very significant and detrimental impact on Mr. Benson’s life."