Woman wanted in school bus near-miss in Pine County

A woman is accused of nearly hitting two children as they exited a school bus in northern Minnesota last month.

Brianna Johnson, 28, was charged in a warrant filed Tuesday for the near-miss in Pine County on Dec. 21.

According to deputies, Johnson was behind the wheel of a truck that swerved around a van and sped past two children crossing County Road 41 in the Willow River area.

Video from the school bus shows the truck quickly speeding around a curve, swerving off the road around a van stopped for the school bus, and narrowly missing two kids by just feet. According to the charges, the driver of the van attempted to follow the truck, thinking the truck had actually hit one of the kids. But, the driver said they couldn't keep up with the speeds of the truck.

Deputies were able to track down the truck, parked in front of a home off Willow Street. However, no one answered the door when deputies knocked on the home. Checking the truck's registration, deputies learned the registered owner was dead.

On Dec. 27, deputies shared a video from the school bus, seeking tips in the case.

The charges lay out a confusing situation, where one tipster told deputies the truck was being used by Johnson. Another caller told deputies that another man now owned the truck. But, when deputies questioned that man, he claimed he had sold it on Facebook prior to the Dec. 21 incident.

However, inside the truck, deputies found lottery tickets they traced back to a convenience store in Sturgeon Lake. Reviewing the store's security video from Dec. 21, they spotted the man who claimed to have sold the truck.

However, in a follow-up interview, the man admitted he had loaned the truck to Johnson while he attempted to repair her personal vehicle. But Johnson had never returned with the truck.

As of Tuesday, Johnson was still wanted in the case.

"It [could’ve] been tragic. I don’t think that child would’ve survived," Willow River Area School Superintendent William Peel said. "The truck was moving too fast - and they were right down the center of the road."

Now, the mother of the children says both kids have returned to school and seem to be doing well. 

"He was visibly upset and told me he almost just died. He was very aware of what had just happened and how close he came to being hit by the truck," mother Maggie Borchardt told FOX 9 on Wednesday. 

"Those kids are very, very lucky," Pine County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Scott Grice said.