Bus driver suffered medical emergency prior to crashing bus into river, no charges filed

Leonard Bus goes into river
Leonard Bus goes into river(Cass County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 8:59 PM CDT
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LEONARD, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Prosecutors have declined to press charges against a longtime bus driver after health experts say he suffered a medical emergency in the moments leading up to a crash that ended in a river.

Officials were dispatched to rural Leonard on Sept. 23 after a school bus went through the guardrail, down the ditch and over an embankment before coming to rest in the Maple River. At the time of the crash, there were seven students from the Enderlin Area School District and a driver on the bus.

“The families are still grieving a little bit and they’re, I think more in shock of how the situation happened, how it unfolded and really, that no one got hurt more serious than they did,” Cass County Sheriff Jesse Jahner said.

The driver, 62-year-old Andy Bunn of Alice, ND, and two students were transported to local hospitals by ambulance. One student was transported by Sanford Airmed to a local hospital. No one suffered life-threatening injuries.

Bunn has been driving bus for over 30 years, and had been on his current route for about five years at the time of the crash. Bunn had already made four stops and told investigating deputies he remembers hitting bumps and thought he was running over gopher mounds in a pasture. Bunn stated he knew something was wrong, but was unable to open his eyes to see what was happening, a crash report obtained by Valley News Live stated.

Bunn told investigators he doesn’t know if he lost consciousness, and said he was able to open his eyes after crashing into the river. Bunn said he saw the windshield was broken out and that two of the students were sitting on the embankment near the bus, and soon after making sure the rest of his riders were accounted for, Bunn called 911.

“What we’d be doing at this point is sending him in for a driver’s license re-test and CDL. He’ll have to go back through that so we can determine the medical causes that he had in this crash won’t be an issue in the future,” Jahner said.

Reports state at least one student was thrown through the bus windshield due to the crash. Two of the children climbed up the embankment to look for nearby houses in search for help, but when they didn’t see any houses, reports say they went back down and sat on the embankment.

Reports estimate the bus was traveling around 34 mph at the time of the crash.