Photograph of minivan showing damage to right bumper, headlight assembly, hood, and windshield.

​Photograph of minivan showing damage to right bumper, headlight assembly, hood, and windshield.​

Fatal Pedestrian Collision with Minivan

What Happened

​​About 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 6, 2016, a school bus was southbound on State Highway 59 about 10 miles south of Thief River Falls, Pennington County, Minnesota. The bus was occupied by the driver and about 12 student passengers, who were on their way to Challenger Elementary School in Thief River Falls. The bus had been traveling north, but the driver missed a scheduled stop and turned around to pick up a 7-year-old boy and his two siblings (ages 13 and 11) who were waiting on the east side of the highway (ordinarily, the boarding side for their bus).

At the same time, a 69-year-old female was driving a minivan north on the highway. As the school bus was coming to a stop and activating its flashing yellow lights, the 7-year-old started across the highway toward the bus and crossed in front of the minivan, which struck him. The boy rode onto the vehicle’s hood and collided with the lower right windshield. He then traveled forward about 100 feet before coming to rest in a ditch on the east side of the highway. The driver of the minivan applied the brakes and came to rest on the right shoulder 229 feet north of the area of impact. Minnesota State Patrol troopers responded to the scene and mapped the final rest positions of the pedestrian and the minivan, as well as evidence on the roadway. The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office also responded and assisted at the scene. The pedestrian was fatally injured. The minivan driver and the pedestrian’s two siblings were not injured. 

​The collision occurred just before sunrise (civil twilight began at 7:01 a.m.), and skies were cloudy. The moon was a waxing crescent, 27 percent illuminated, the temperature was 36°F, and winds were from the southwest at 12 mph.

What We Found

​The crash in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, was a combination of the pedestrian running across the highway travel lane in the path of the oncoming minivan; the minivan driver’s speed; and the low-light conditions, which would have limited the minivan driver’s ability to see the pedestrian. Further contributing to the crash was the bus driver’s failure to pick the students up at their designated stop.​