Mitchell bus driver back to work day after crashSchool, bus officials meet and agree to allow driver back on route.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
The driver who caused a school bus-SUV crash on the opening day of school was back behind the wheel Tuesday.
Einar Petersen, who works for Dietrich Bus Service, was cited for a stop-sign violation after the crash Monday. On Tuesday, he drove his regular route, the same one he was on Monday afternoon when the crash occurred.
Peterson, 48, of Mitchell, was driving a bus eastbound across state Highway 37 on 259th Street, four miles south of Mitchell, when it collided with a northbound Chevrolet TrailBlazer, according to Highway Patrol Trooper Jason Brandt.
The two people in the SUV, Janelle Reichert, 41, of Parkston, and a 14-year-old passenger, received minor cuts and bruises to their faces.
They were transported to Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell, where they were treated and released Monday.
They were cited for not wearing seat belts.
Neither Petersen nor the three children aboard the bus were hurt. One of the students was a high school student, while the other two, including Petersen’s son, are in elementary schools. The driver’s son does not live on the route, but was riding along with his dad.
Dietrich Bus Service is contracted by the Mitchell School District to provide busing.
Dietrich manager Bill Fergen said the company is sorry the crash happened but did not see any reason to fire or suspend Peterson. The driver has been with the company for several years, Fergen said, and has a good safety record.
“As far as the accident, I feel bad that it happened,” Fergen said. “I try to learn from this. I’m glad no one was hurt or killed.”
He said the employees are trained and watch videos to prepare.
“We’re going to concentrate a little bit better,” Fergen said.
Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves met with Dietrich representatives Tuesday morning to discuss the crash. Graves said he was told Petersen would be driving Tuesday and he said that was fine with the district.
“We do feel he’s a safe driver,” Graves said. “He’s subbed for us quite some time before he became a regular driver. We feel he’s safe.”
Fergen said he has spoken with the injured people.
“They’re a little sore,” he said. “I’m just grateful it was only that.”
The SUV was extensively damaged, with the Highway Patrol report estimating damage at $5,000.
The bus door took much of the impact in the crash and the side of the bus was also damaged. Fergen said the 2004 Thomas bus is out of commission now, but once he gets some parts for it, it will be put back into service.
There was no indication Petersen was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.