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Girl hurt in school bus crash released from Fargo hospital

Emergency personnel were on the scene after a school bus crash north of Bemidji on May 3 that injured several students. (Pioneer staff photo)1 / 2
A North Memorial helicopter leaves the scene of an accident involving a school bus north of Bemidji on May 3. (Maggi Stivers | Forum News Service)2 / 2

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A 10-year-old Red Lake, Minn., girl who was seriously injured in a school bus crash last week has been released from the hospital, her mother said.

Jo Cobenais said her daughter Amya was on the bus May 3 when it was hit by another car north of Bemidji. Amya sustained a lacerated spleen, Cobenais said, and blood flow to one of the 10-year-old's kidneys was cut off.

"There was no blood flow, and they said the chances are very low for it to come back," Cobenais said of her daughter's kidney. "They said it will's basically going to shrivel up."

The Beltrami County Sheriff's Office said that the accident was caused when Thomas Lee Nielson, 29, drove his car through a stop sign on South Movil Lake Road and hit the bus on its right side. The bus, which had been traveling south on Irvine Avenue, lost control and swerved onto the soft shoulder before rolling on its side in the ditch. The bus was headed to Northern Elementary and was carrying students from the district's northern attendance areas, including Red Lake Nation.

Nielson, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was cited for careless driving Friday, May 5.

Five students were "obviously injured" and taken to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center by ambulance, according to a news release sent Thursday.

Cobenais said Amya was taken by ambulance to Sanford Bemidji, but was quickly flown to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo, where she stayed for six days.

Amya is now back home and recovering, her mother said. The 10-year-old won't be able to ride her bike for eight weeks and has been instructed to "take it easy" for six months.

"We have a big family, so the grandparents have been a big help," Cobenais said. "We're just trying to get back into our routine."

Beltrami County Sheriff's Office said last week that the Minnesota State Patrol was helping law enforcement reconstruct the accident and that it remained under investigation.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796