By Kristen Miller
Updated 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16.
DASSEL, MN With only an eighth of a mile visibility, a Dassel-Cokato school bus and truck collided around 7:30 a.m. at an intersection five miles north of Dassel Friday morning.
There were 18 children on Dassel-Cokato school bus #33, which is according to the bus roster and then confirmed by the bus driver, said DC Supt. Jeff Powers.
Eight students were transported to hospitals, six to Hutchinson and two to Litchfield, with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the State Patrol.
Of these students, Alexis Iverson, daughter of Eric and Jenny Iverson, ended up with vertebrae injuries that landed her at the pediatric ICU at Hennepin County Medical Center, according to her father, Eric.
“She has two fractured vertebrae in her neck and a bone chip fragment from her skull that is next to her spine, where the spine attaches to the skull,” Eric commented. “It has been a very emotionally trying day for our family,” he posted on the ED blog Friday. “I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers and acts of kindness in this time of need. Please continue to keep our daughter in your prayers,” he added.
Brenda Johnson, mother of Dani Johnson, commented that her daughter sustained a broken collar bone in the crash, but will be fine.
“The Dassel Fire Department, Litchfield and Watkins paramedics everyone else on the scene (Jeff & Kay Anderson) you all did a wonderful job,” Johnson commented.
The bus driver, John Rokala, 78, of Dassel, was traveling eastbound on CSAH 21, which is located in Kingston Township.
The bus stopped at the stop sign, and was in the process of crossing Highway 15 when it came into contact with a white 2004 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Daniel Schneider, 28, of Kimball, which was traveling southbound on Highway 15. The two collided at the rear driver’s side of the bus, according to Meeker County Sheriff Jeff Norlin. Schneider received non-life threatening injuries, according to the State Patrol.
There was dense fog at the time of the accident, according to the State Patrol.
Rokala was not injured, and has been a bus driver for the district for 12 years, Powers said.
The State Patrol is investigating the accident, along with Meeker County Sheriff’s Office.
Dassel Fire and Rescue, Gold Cross Ambulance, Watkins Ambulance, and Cokato Ambulance also responded to the scene.