Crash that injured Mpls girl raises questions about school bus stop arm violations

Tragedy struck within minutes when 11-year-old Shianne Dean got off her school bus Friday afternoon near 23rd Avenue North and Penn Avenue on Minneapolis' north side.

Police say the child was thrown into the air when a 60-year-old man who was apparently intoxicated hit her. Now, investigators are also trying to determine if the bus driver deployed the stop arm and flashing red lights to warn motorists of students crossing the street.

“When the red lights are activated and the stop arm is fully deployed, traffic must stop before coming within 20 feet of the bus,” said Brian Reu, State Director of Pupil Transportation with the Minnesota State Patrol. “The only exception to that is if you are on a divided roadway, so there is a physical barrier or separation and you are going the opposite direction from the bus.”

Lt. Reu said the stop arm should be used in nearly every scenario when students are getting off a bus.

Exceptions include the bus in a loading zone, at a railroad crossing, if the bus doesn't actually have students on board or if the school district designates areas where the stop arm doesn't apply.

The executive director of Stonebridge World Charter School - where the girl is a student - said they've partnered with Monarch Bus Service for three years and have never had any issues.

The bus company declined to comment to FOX 9 despite multiple attempts.

Lobbyists for the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation have unsuccessfully tried to push legislation that would install cameras on bus stop arms to cut down on these violations.

State Senator David Tomassoni said in the last few weeks, he's seen a number of incidents across the state where bus laws are not being followed.

"I pull up behind a bus with the yellow flashing lights, two little kids are getting onto the right-hand side, and that bus driver didn’t put out the stop arm or the flashing red flights,” Sen. Tomassoni said.

The girl's mother said she's still in critical condition Monday night. So far, no charges have been filed against the driver, as police are still waiting on toxicology reports to come back.