Girl still scared after near miss with semi; driver contacts police
By Gretchen Schlosser / Forum News Service
PAYNESVILLE, Minn. -- The 13-year-old girl nearly struck Friday morning by a semi truck that illegally passed her school bus says she’s still scared and shaky days later.
Alexis Schwartz, who just finished the seventh grade at Paynesville Area Schools, said she stands back away from State Highway 23 for her bus pickup at the end of her family’s driveway near Hawick.
That awareness saved her on the last day of the school year, when a semi passed her school bus on the right, coming between Alexis and the bus as the bus door was opening for her. She said the incident happened in a “blink of an eye.”
The Minnesota State Patrol on Tuesday asked the public for help in identifying the semi and the driver, who didn’t stop after the incident. The plea for assistance included video footage from the bus cameras showing the bus stopping and then the semi and trailer zipping by on the right.
According to Lt. Eric Roeske, public information officer for the patrol, the driver contacted law enforcement Tuesday evening. Via Twitter, Roeske said Wednesday morning that the person’s name would not be released while the investigation is active.
Under Minnesota law, passing a school bus with a child outside the bus is a gross misdemeanor charge.
Alexis’ mom, Tracy Adams, said she asked the bus company to switch her daughter’s bus pickup last month, making Alexis the first child to be picked up instead of the last. The change moved Alexis’ pickup time to 7 a.m. and meant she didn’t have to walk across the traffic lanes to get onto the bus.
“I was afraid of her crossing the highway,” Adams said.
She also has asked the bus company to figure out a safer way to pick up her daughter for the coming school year and has asked the county highway department for bus stop signs to be posted.
The family’s residence is north of Hawick, and just 1½ miles from the new four-lane bypass around Paynesville. Adams said drivers are either going fast because they had the opportunity to speed up to 65 mph on the bypass or are anticipating speeding up, if they are about to get to the bypass.
Adams also wants other parents to be aware of bus stop safety and teach their children to be aware of their surroundings, which is what saved her daughter.
“Anything can happen in the blink of an eye,” Adams said. “She saved herself by paying attention.”