A school bus carrying 11 children swerved along a central Minnesota highway and in and out of the ditch Wednesday while its driver suffered a medical condition.
The bus, traveling northbound on Hwy. 47 at 35 to 40 miles per hour, wove in and out of the right lane of the two-lane undivided highway for more than 10 minutes around 4 p.m. as an Aitkin County sheriff’s deputy followed, according to a news release from the Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office. None of the students, who attend school in Isle, Minn., was injured.
The deputy, who followed the bus for about 14 minutes, drove into the oncoming traffic lane a few times with her emergency lights on to warn approaching drivers, the release said. Dashcam video from the deputy’s car shows one motorist, who was driving toward the oncoming bus, throwing the car into reverse and then backing up into a driveway to avoid a collision. At one point, a student on the bus dialed 911 and said the driver, Scott Gilbertson, 68, of Isle, appeared to be having a medical emergency, the release said.
Students never took control of the bus, said Sheriff Scott Turner. At one point, the bus slowed down almost to a stop and its rear door opened, the release said, but then the bus drove on.
Another time, the bus careened across the southbound lane into a ditch on the left side of the road, pitched to the left at an alarming angle, and then swerved back onto the highway.
A state trooper deployed a tire deflation device just south of the town of Glen to stop the bus, according to the release. The bus slowly drove into a shallow ditch and stopped.
“The older kids comforted the younger kids and called for help,” said Isle School District Superintendent Dean Kapsner. “I’m very proud of our students. Everything came together in a positive way that day.”
Kapsner said the driver was treated and released from the hospital. The school has not yet decided if he will return to driving buses.
Anne Millerbernd is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.