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School bus driver charged in fatality

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

Westal John Maine, 74, of Pequot Lakes, charged Wednesday in Cass County District Court with two misdemeanors in relation to a March 22 accident that killed a 6-year-old child.

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Maine was charged with the offenses of careless driving and moving a bus after children were unloaded. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 7.

According to the complaint:

Maine stopped to let the child off the bus and saw the child cross the road in front of the bus. Maine than became distracted by other children on the bus and turned around to deal with those children.

When he turned back around, he failed to see that the child he let off was still standing in front of the bus. At that point, Maine resumed driving his route. Moments later, he felt a bump toward the rear of the bus. In his rear view mirror, he saw the child lying in the road.

Maine immediately called for help, then backed the bus up stopping several feet from the child. The investigation revealed that the child would have been clearly visible in the mirrors that reflect the front of the bus at the time Maine resumed his route.

Cass County Attorney Christopher Strandlie said in a press release that under the law, Maine's driving conduct does not support felony or gross misdemeanor charges. No drugs or alcohol were factors in the accident.

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