A driver who led police on a chase that ended when he rear-ended a school bus Tuesday morning in Robbinsdale is facing a host of charges, including fleeing police, drunken driving and criminal operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm.
Five students were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after Argeni Macea Fernandez, 28, hit the school bus they were riding to FAIR School in Crystal as he drove down 42nd Avenue N. while attempting to evade police. He was arrested at the crash scene near Quail Avenue, just east of Hwy. 100.
Fernandez, who was released from the Hennepin County jail Wednesday night after posing $40,000 bail, had struck another motorist and knocked down trees, road signs and a light pole before hitting the school bus as police gave chase, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hennepin County District Court.
Police encountered Fernandez on the shoulder of northbound Hwy. 100 at 36th Avenue as he attempted to maneuver his SUV out of a ditch. As an officer attempted to reach Fernandez, he drove the vehicle onto Hwy. 100. He stopped a few blocks away at County Road 81 where the officer attempted to speak with him. The officer reported an “overpowering smell of consumed alcohol” coming from Fernandez’s breath and that his eyes were bloodshot and glassy, the complaint said.
Fernandez, of Columbia Heights, disobeyed the officer’s commands to put the SUV in park and provide his driver’s license. As the officer opened the SUV’s door, Fernandez took off, accelerating rapidly and striking another vehicle as he pulled into traffic on Hwy. 100. Fernandez crossed through a median and hit a sound barrier as he tried to get away, the complaint said.
A short time later another officer spotted the suspect driving erratically, striking trees and road signs as he drove on County Road 81. Fernandez then got onto 42nd Avenue and was driving west in the eastbound lanes. At Quail Avenue, he crossed back into the westbound lanes where he hit the school bus from behind.
About 22 students were on the bus at the time.
Fernandez was charged with felony fleeing of a peace officer in a motor vehicle, drunken driving and five counts of operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner causing bodily harm.
He is due in court April 19.