Some quick thinking and bold driving by police and a local fireman helped avert disaster Wednesday as a runaway bus plowed through a western Minnesota town after the driver suffered a medical emergency.
No one was injured, and there were no children on the bus. But video posted Thursday by the Yellow Medicine County Sheriff’s Office showed how dangerous things got as the bus careened down U.S. Highway 212 on the wrong side of the road.
The incident began just after noon when a Renville County school district bus rear-ended a car at a stoplight in Granite Falls, pushing the vehicle through the intersection and then more than two blocks through town.
Alerted by 911 calls, deputies caught up to the bus about two miles west of Granite Falls traveling in the wrong lane at about 40 mph.
Deputies maneuvered their squads to the front and the back of the bus with sirens and lights blaring to warn off nearby drivers.
“At one point, they got the bus stopped for just a second or two. And the bus started pushing the deputy’s car,” said Granite Falls police chief Brian Struffert. “The deputy had his foot on the brakes, leaving squeal marks from the tires.”
Deputy Eric Diekmann was able to get close enough with the rear of his squad car to bump the bus and use his brakes slow it down, the sheriff’s office said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Once the vehicle was almost stopped, Greg Meyer, a Granite Falls fireman, jumped from his own vehicle, “opened the door to the bus and was able to stop the bus and put it in park,” the sheriff’s office said. Meyer had seen the accident in Granite Falls and was also in front of the bus with his flashers on attempting to warn on coming drivers.
The driver, Brian Fuller, 70, from Renville, was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Granite Falls. His condition is unknown, the sheriff’s office said.
The driver “seemed catatonic almost,” Struffert said. “He was navigating the roads, just not well.”