ROSEMOUNT, Minn. — Miana Rhoades was crossing the street in front of her school bus when the sound of a blaring horn suddenly pierced the cold December air.
As 11-year-old Miana was just about to step past the front of the bus, which had its stop arm extended and red lights flashing, a pickup truck came barreling by. Miana came to a halt as the truck passed a few feet away from her, then she hurried the rest of the way across the street.
The truck driver left the scene but was later identified and charged for illegally passing the school bus.
Authorities said that the December 2016 incident in Rosemount illustrated an ongoing safety issue: vehicles passing school buses while students are loading or unloading. On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety held a press conference to highlight the topic and released school bus video surveillance footage that shows Miana nearly being struck by the truck.
Miana’s adoptive mother, Joyce Rhoades, spoke about the incident during the press conference. Rhoades described “remembering how Miana looked when she said she thought she was going to die.” She credited the school bus driver with helping to save her daughter’s life.
“If it hadn’t been for the school bus driver sounding his horn, Miana might not be alive today,” Rhoades said. Miana was born in Guatemala and adopted at 8 months old. Now a seventh grader in Rosemount, she enjoys playing soccer and ice skating.
Also at the press conference, Miana’s adoptive father, Les Rhoades, recalled his reaction when he saw the video of the bus-passing incident.
“I was extremely angry that it happened and that it does still happen — that people are so distracted that they don’t have time enough to stop for [school buses],” Les Rhoades said.
In a one-day tally of stop-arm running earlier this year, 3,659 school bus drivers in Minnesota reported a total of 703 violations.
Over the past six years, law enforcement officers across the state have written 8,794 citations for school bus stop-arm violations, as shown here:
On Aug. 1 of this year, Minnesota raised the fine for stop-arm violations from $300 to $500.
Also at the press conference in Rosemount on Monday, state pupil transportation director Lt. Brian Reu of the Minnesota State Patrol addressed the issue of illegal school bus passing.
“People are going through the stop arm because they’re in too big a hurry, they aren’t paying attention, or they simply don’t know what to do,” Reu said.
He noted that students also need to watch for cars as they step off of a school bus, look for the bus driver’s signal before crossing, and make eye contact with motorists to make sure they are staying stopped.
“Together,” Reu added, “we can all do our part to keep children safe.”