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Bus driver who ran over 6-year-old charged with careless driving

Six-year-old Dominick Strey was killed April 6 when he was struck by a school bus.

The driver of the bus that struck and killed a 6-year-old boy in Calumet in April has been charged with misdemeanor careless driving in the accident.

Charges were filed Thursday in Itasca County District Court against Anita Diane Olson Ketola, 57, of Grand Rapids.

On April 6, Olson Ketola was driving the bus that struck Dominick Lee Strey. Dominick had just stepped off the bus at his grandparents' house along Itasca County Road 12. His brother and sister got off the bus at the same time.

According to the probable cause statement filed in court, witnesses said Dominick stepped off the bus but remained on the right side of the bus, and appeared to be looking for something on the ground, as the other children crossed in front of the bus on the left.

His family later said Dominick had dropped his math test for which he had received an A-plus.

Witnesses, including family members who watched the accident unfold and children on the bus, said Olson Ketola turned off the lights and stop arm and began to drive away just as Dominick stepped in front of the bus.

Olson Ketola told investigators that she realized she didn't see the boy with the other two children who had gotten off the bus, but that she checked the mirror that looked over the front bumper and did not see him in front of the bus. She said she assumed the boy had quickly gotten into a nearby parked car.

Olson Ketola said she wasn't aware the bus had struck the boy until she felt something and looked in the rear view mirror.

A Minnesota State Patrol investigation found that alcohol, speed, weather and condition of the bus were not factors in the accident.

Olson Ketola tested negative for alcohol. The investigator determined the cause of the accident was "carelessness and inattention on the part of the bus driver.''

Olson Ketola was a 10-year veteran bus driver, previously for the Grand Rapids district and, at the time of the accident, for the Greenway school district. She will appear in court on June 23, Itasca County Attorney John Muhar said in a news release Thursday.

A message left on Olson Ketola's answering machine was not immediately returned.

The Hibbing Daily Tribune reported last month that Olson Ketola was suspended from her bus driving job earlier this year for another incident. The paper said school district records show she served a three-day suspension for pulling out in front of another school bus. The paper said Olson Ketola has not worked as a bus driver for the district since April 20. No citations were issued for that incident.