The driver of a car that slammed into a Metro Transit bus, killing one passenger and critically injuring another Friday night in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood, has been charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation.
Charges were filed Monday against Tyler Randall Bjelland, 26, of Minneapolis, in Ramsey County District Court. He is expected to make his first court appearance Tuesday, where prosecutors will ask for $500,000 bail.
Police called the crash at Charles Avenue and Dale Street “horrific and surreal.” Kenneth J. Foster, 48, of Minneapolis, was a passenger on the bus when Bjelland allegedly sped through a stop sign, hit a curb and went airborne, crashing through the midsection of the northbound Route 64 bus about 7:30 p.m. Foster was ejected from the bus and died at the scene. Another passenger was taken to the hospital in critical condition and had experienced swelling in his brain, the charges said.
The critically injured passenger, Markus Jackson, 19, who played football for Central High School in St. Paul, remains hospitalized.
According to the charges:
Bjelland sideswiped a vehicle parked on Charles Avenue near Victoria Street and sped off at a high speed in a white Impala. The owner of the parked car tried to follow Bjelland, who appeared drunk, but was unable to keep up as Bjelland drove erratically and was “all over the road” as he drove east on Charles. Another witness said Bjelland was revving the Impala’s engine at every intersection it passed and saw the car go airborne after it hit a median at Dale Street. She estimated that Bjelland was driving nearly 100 miles per hour. A third witness said Bjelland blew through a stop sign at Dale and Charles.
About five other passengers on the bus, including minors, were treated for noncritical injuries.
The bus driver told police he was traveling at 25 mph when the bus was suddenly thrown off the road by a “tremendous force.” He didn’t realize the severity of the incident until he stepped out of the bus.
Bjelland’s Impala was on fire after the crash and rescue workers had to cut him out of the wreckage, which was wrapped around a tree. He was taken to Regions Hospital with broken ankles and possibly a broken leg. An officer at the scene said he “smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot, watery eyes.”
Bjelland declined to make a statement. Bjelland has been previously convicted of theft and disorderly conduct, according to court records. He is currently on probation after being convicted of failing to take a DWI test in 2016, the conditions of which included no reckless driving.