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Iron Range bus driver pleads guilty in boy's death

An Iron Range school bus driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to careless driving in an accident that killed a 6-year-old boy in Calumet in April. Anita Diane Olson Ketola, 57, of Grand Rapids entered the plea in Itasca County District Court. Olson Keto...

An Iron Range school bus driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to careless driving in an accident that killed a 6-year-old boy in Calumet in April.

Anita Diane Olson Ketola, 57, of Grand Rapids entered the plea in Itasca County District Court. Olson Ketola was sentenced to 90 days in jail and placed on one year of probation for the misdemeanor conviction, but the jail sentence was suspended on the condition that she pay a $380 fine and commit no similar offenses.

On April 6, Olson Ketola was driving the bus that struck Dominick Lee Strey. Dominick had just stepped off the bus at his grandparents' house along Itasca County Road 12. His brother and sister got off the bus at the same time.

Olson Ketola was a bus driver for 10 years, first for the Grand Rapids school district and, at the time of the accident, for the Greenway school district. She couldn't be reached for comment.

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses said Dominick stepped off the bus but remained on the right side of the bus, and appeared to be looking for something on the ground, as the other children crossed in front of the bus. His family later said Dominick had dropped his math test for which he had received an A-plus.

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Witnesses, including family members and children on the bus, said Olson Ketola began to drive away just as Dominick stepped in front of the bus.

Olson Ketola told investigators that she realized she didn't see the boy with the other two children who had gotten off the bus, but that she checked the mirror that looked over the front bumper and did not see him in front of the bus. She said she assumed the boy had quickly gotten into a nearby parked car.

Olson Ketola said she wasn't aware the bus struck the boy until she looked in the rear view mirror. A Minnesota State Patrol investigation found that alcohol, speed, weather and the condition of the bus were not factors in the accident.

Olson Ketola tested negative for alcohol. The investigator determined that the cause of the accident was "carelessness and inattention on the part of the bus driver.''

Related Topics: GRAND RAPIDSIRON RANGE
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