A boy who was hit by a pickup truck while boarding a school bus Thursday morning in St. Paul remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
Ramaden Waliye on Friday was recovering from his injuries at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, a hospital spokesman said.
Waliye, 7, was in a crosswalk and crossing S. Robert Street at Wood Street to board a stopped school bus that had its lights flashing and stop arm out when he was hit about 6:30 a.m., police said.
The driver, a 60-year-old man, stopped at the scene. St. Paul Police spokesman Steve Linders said the man from St. Paul was cooperating with investigators.
Police on Friday said that they have made no arrests and the driver has not been charged.
Records show the driver had a valid driver’s license with an ignition interlock restriction, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said. Alcohol did not appear to have been a factor in the crash, police said Thursday.
Waliye, a second-grader at Higher Ground Academy, a college preparatory charter school in St. Paul, was the second student in the metro to be hit in the past few weeks.
An Edina High School student was injured when she was hit Jan. 23 on France Avenue. In that case, a motorist allegedly drove onto the shoulder on the right side of the bus and struck the student, who was getting on, police said.
A driver meeting a school bus on roads like Robert Street and France Avenue with one travel lane in each direction must stop 20 feet from the bus when red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended. The driver must remain stopped until the red lights have stopped flashing and the stop arm is retracted, according to state law.
Over the past five years, more than 5,700 motorists have been cited for stop-arm violations, according to data from the DPS. Tickets come with a minimum fine of $500. Penalties rise if a driver passes a stopped school bus on the right or if children are outside the bus. Offending motorists can be charged with a felony if an injury or death occurs.
Each spring, the DPS conducts a one-day survey asking bus drivers to report stop-arm violations. Over the past five years, DPS said it received an average of 600 reports of drivers disobeying stop arms on that one day. With about 170 school days in a year, it estimates that stop-arm infractions could happen as many as 100,000 times a year.
That’s an alarming number to state Sens. Rich Draheim, R-Madison Lake, and Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, who this week introduced a bill that would create a public-relations campaign to educate motorists about how to operate in the presence of school buses.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to this boy, his family, and his classmates during this trying time,” a joint statement from the senators said. “Situations like this shouldn’t happen. Quite simply, there is no excuse to pass a school bus illegally. The safety of our children around school buses remains [of] the utmost importance.”