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UPDATE, 6:50 p.m.
According to a report by MPR, Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said there was no indication of alcohol or other impairment by either driver, and no indication that either was distracted by a phone.
The van was a regular 10-passenger van and had seat belts. The driver was belted, but none of the children were. The Minnesota State Patrol said the van was classified as a type 3 vehicle, where seat belts are required.
The investigation is ongoing.
UPDATE, 1:45 p.m.
According to an update on the Swift County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page, the “semi was traveling east on Cty Rd 20 when the van struck the front drivers wheel directly behind the cab of the semi-tractor.”
UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.
KMSP-TV (Fox 9) reported that the school van was driven by Judith Van Eps, 68, of Hancock, MN. She is listed in stable condition. The semi-truck was driven by Jeremy Beyer, 43, of Danvers, MN. He was treated and released at the scene.
The passengers in the school van were identified by the sheriff as: Gaige Sanderson, 16 (critical); Harleigh Schlief, 16 (critical); Braydn Sanderson, 15 (treated and released); Savannah Schlief 14, (critical); Natasha Schlief, 12 (stable); Blade Schlief, 10 (stable); and Korah Schroeder, 10 (stable). Schroeder is from Holloway; all of the other students are from Danvers.
ORIGINAL POST, 10:30 a.m.
We are only 10 weeks into the new year, and semi-truck crashes across the United States have been making headlines far too frequently. In the most recent collision, seven schoolchildren and one adult were injured Monday when their school van was broadsided by a semi-truck near Benson, MN.
Here’s a sampling of some other semi-truck crashes that have occurred so far this year:
- Monday: A semi-truck ran a red light in Albuquerque, NM, and smashed a car under the truck, sending the car’s driver to intensive care.
- February 28: Three people were seriously injured when a semi-truck caused a chain-reaction collision with four vehicles in northwest Illinois.
- February 27: A semi-truck rear-ended and killed a motorist stopped at a red light on Highway 36 in Lake Elmo, MN. Police charges allege that the semi-truck driver was looking at his cellphone for 8 seconds before slamming into the vehicle. Rear- and front-facing cameras in the semi’s cab support the charges. The driver was charged with one count of criminal vehicular homicide
- February 20: A semi-truck struck two pedestrians in Colorado City, TX. The semi-truck swerved into a roadside drainage ditch trying to avoid hitting a vehicle that had been involved in an earlier crash. One pedestrian was killed, the other severely injured.
- February 16: A concrete pump truck plowed through a center divider on I-10 near Rialto, CA, and slammed head-on into traffic, hitting three vehicles, a motorcycle and dump truck, killing five.
- February 12: A pedestrian standing on the shoulder of a Highway 70 on-ramp in Yuba County, CA, was killed when a semi-truck pulling a trailer loaded with gravel overturned, striking and killing the pedestrian.
- February 7: A semi-truck veered onto the shoulder in Scio Township, MI, and was rear-ended by another semi-truck. The second truck’s driver was ejected into traffic, where he was struck and killed by a passing car. The driver of the first truck and the driver of the passing car were hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
- January 16: Two elementary-school students suffered injuries in Lyle, MN, when a semi-truck rammed into their building. The truck was out of control after rear-ending a car and veering off the road into the school. The car’s driver and a child passenger were also injured.
- January 10: A semi-truck struck the rear of two other semis that were stopped for a previous crash in Seymour, IN, resulting in a fire and the injury of one person.
- January 7: A semi-truck driver was hospitalized after his truck rolled over on Interstate 80 near Shorewood, IL. His truck had struck an abandoned car on the side of the road.
Many of these crashes are still under investigation.
School van collision injures 8
in central Minnesota
All of the injured in Monday’s school van collision in central Minnesota were on board a Hancock Public Schools transport van. The children ranged in age from 8 to 16. The school van’s female driver also was injured.
The crash happened around 3:40 p.m. at the intersection of Swift County Road 20 and 130th Avenue Northwest, about 10 miles west of Benson.
“The van was coming off a gravel road crossing a tar road,” Swift County Sheriff John Holtz said.
Initial reports said the semi-truck was pulling an empty grain trailer eastbound on a paved road when it struck the school van on the passenger side. The school van was traveling southbound on a gravel road when it entered the intersection.
The semi-truck ended up jackknifed in the ditch, several yards from the intersection. The school van suffered significant damage.
All eight people aboard the school van were transported to Appleton Area Health Services or Benson Area Hospital. Two of the injured were then airlifted by helicopter to Twin Cities’ hospitals, officials said.
The semi-truck driver was uninjured.
Responding to the scene of the collision were numerous emergency first-responders: Appleton Ambulance & Fire, Benson Ambulance & Fire, Stevens County Medical Ambulances, Danvers First Responders and Fire, Holloway First Responders, Minnesota State Patrol, and the Benson and Appleton police departments.
In other highway news:
MN hands-free bill proposed
Are the majority of semi-truck crashes the result of distracted driving? It’s certainly possible, and one reason investigations are ongoing.
Today in Minnesota, the Minnesota State Patrol and families that have lost loved ones to distracted driving will propose a bill to lawmakers to address that problem. If passed, the bill would make Minnesota the 16th hands-free driving state in the country.
The House Public Safety and Security Policy and Finance Committee will hear testimony from the groups. The bill would make it illegal for drivers to hold cell phones while driving.
Last year in Minnesota, the number of texting and driving citations increased by 23 percent over the previous year, according to statistics released Friday by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS).
“Texting is continuing to be a critical – almost epidemic – issue on Minnesota roads,” Mike Hanson, who heads the DPS’ Office of Traffic Safety, told the Star Tribune. “It’s the one area we’re not making significant progress in. … In fact, it’s going in the wrong direction.”
Distracted driving is responsible for 25 percent of crashes on Minnesota roads, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries, according to the data.