Two Rogers High School students were in critical condition late Thursday after a pickup truck driver failed to obey a school bus warning arm and hit them and a third student at a stop in the northwest metro.
The incident occurred about 6:50 a.m. Thursday near Parrish Avenue NE. and 78th Street in Otsego, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
An Allina Health spokesman said the three were taken by ambulance to Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids. From there, they were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
The Sheriff’s Office identified the students as Greta Jenson, Beckett Olson and Ian Orina. All are 15 and from Otsego.
Jenson and Olson were in critical condition late Thursday afternoon. Orina was in serious condition, an HCMC spokeswoman said.
The driver, Cody Pech, 22, of Lexington, was arrested and jailed on suspicion of felony criminal vehicular operation and gross misdemeanor school bus stop-arm violation. The Sheriff’s Office said he could be charged Friday.
Pech’s stepfather, Jason Palmer, said Pech had bought the pickup a few days ago and “was just over last night showing it to us.”
Mitchell Buss, who previously owned the pickup, described Pech as an “honest person. ... I’m sure that it was an accident.”
State records for Pech show convictions for speeding three times within an eight-month span as well as convictions for altering vehicle equipment, lack of proof of insurance and an expired registration.
Initial reports indicate that the bus had halted “with its stop arm out waiting to pick up students,” a sheriff’s statement read. “As the students walked towards the bus, they were struck by an oncoming pickup truck.”
Pech was detained at the scene for questioning, and investigators remained there to gather evidence, the Sheriff’s Office added.
District administrators said late Thursday morning that crisis teams were at the high school to provide support for students and staff.
A family with a student at Rogers has started a fund-raising campaign online on behalf of the injured students. Donations can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/bw-bus-stop-accident-medical-expenses.