Minneapolis Police investigating school bus stop arm use after crash injures girl

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An 11-year-old girl continues to fight for her life Sunday after a car hit her while she was getting off a school bus Friday afternoon.

Police arrested the driver for being under the influence. Now, an investigation is centering on the bus’s use of its stop arm.

She was on a bus operated by the Monarch Bus Company. FOX 9 learned the girl’s school partnered with them for about three years and has never had any issues.

However, Minneapolis Police say they’re looking into whether a stop arm was used or not.

Shianne Dean has now undergone two surgeries for swelling in her brain and other injuries after she was hit by a car getting off her school bus. Her family says she has made some progress in her recovery.

The incident happened at the intersection of 23rd Avenue North and Penn Avenue Friday afternoon.

“When he hit her, she flew up in the air and came back down and my baby hadn’t talked since,” Williams said. “She hasn’t opened her eyes since.”

Williams told FOX 9 she was told the bus driver did not use the flashing lights or activate the stop arm while her daughter crossed the street. Minneapolis Police believe the stop arm was not out at the time of the crash.

According to the state statute, “the use of the stop signal arm must be used in conjunction with the flashing red signals only when the school bus is stopped on a street or highway to load or unload school children.”

There are only a few reasons why the stop arm would not be used.

FOX 9 reached out to Monarch Bus Company several times, but they have declined to comment.

The Executive Director for Stonebridge World Charter School where Dean attends says they do not have a board-approved bus policy and continually review safety guidelines with all of our contractors.

In a statement, the school says, “This dear student is in our thoughts as is her family and the Stonebridge community stands ready to do what we can to support the family, our students and staff during this time.”

The school also says they will provide a support team on site tomorrow for students and staff.

According to the Minnesota Association for Pupil Transportation, there are over 100,000 violations a year for stop arm signals, but violators rarely get prosecuted by courts.

A lobbyist from the association said there were several legislative items in the works, including a $50,000 grant to create a public awareness campaign and an effort to equip these stop arms with their own cameras, but so far, both measures have not gone anywhere this year.

Full statement from Monarch Bus Company:

At approximately 4:50 p.m. on Friday, May 3, a fifth grade student from Stonebridge World School exited a school bus operated by Monarch Bus Service at the intersection of Penn Avenue and 23rd Avenue North. While crossing Penn Avenue, the student was struck by a passing car. Student safety is of utmost importance to us, and that is why our foremost thoughts and prayers are with the student, her family, and the entire Stonebridge World School community. We are working with local law enforcement and the school during the ongoing investigation of this incident.