Home News Motorist ignores school bus stop arm, narrowly misses striking 4th-grader

Motorist ignores school bus stop arm, narrowly misses striking 4th-grader

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The Minnesota Department of Public Safety on Thursday released video of a motorist nearly clipping a Wabasha County fourth-grader as she approached her school bus in January.

Ambriel Johnson, a student at Zumbrota-Mazeppa Elementary School, was crossing a two-lane road to board the bus when an oncoming driver blew past its extended stop arm and came within a foot or two of hitting her. The near miss was captured by a bus security camera, and the motorist was fined $300 for a school bus stop arm violation, a gross misdemeanor.

Pat Johnson, Ambriel’s father, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon that the footage is difficult for him to look at.

“Your heart stops,” he said. “You feel sick, your blood pressure goes up. We feel our daughter had an angel looking out for her that day.”

DPS officials hope the frightening footage will awaken Minnesota motorists of the danger of passing a bus when its stop arm is extended, an offense they say remains frustratingly common despite a gradual decline in citations over the past five years.

A DPS survey of school bus drivers on April 17 found that 625 motorists illegally passed buses in Minnesota on that day alone, said Lt. Brian Reu of the State Patrol.

Minnesota law enforcement officers handed out 1,164 stop arm citations in 2018, down from 1,573 in 2014, according to figures from DPS. Reu said at least two children have been struck by motorists driving through stop arms in 2019.

“Please slow down, protect our children,” Pat Johnson said. “It may take you a a few minutes longer to get where you need to go, but you’ll get there safely and so will everyone else.”

(c)2019 the Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.)
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