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Bigfork man cited in Polson bus crash

 POLSON – A Bigfork man was cited last week after rear-ending a Polson school bus at high speed. 

Daniel George Fellows, 19, of Bigfork, was charged with three counts of misdemeanor criminal endangerment after allegedly rear ending a Polson School bus at 78 mph near Fulkerson’s Corner on Highway 35 on May 11. There were no skid marks at the scene to indicate Fellows applied his brakes after he rounded the corner northbound. A student who was exiting the bus at the time of the crash was thrown onto the ground and sustained cuts, minor road rash and bruises, according to Polson Schools Superintendent Linda Reksten. 

Reksten said 11 students were on the bus at the time of the crash, with three transported by ambulance to St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson. Parents also transported some students via personal vehicle. 

“We were very lucky no students were seriously injured,” Reksten said. “It could have been a lot worse.” 

The students were checked the next day by the school nurse, and all were doing OK, Reksten said. She praised the bus driver for knowing exactly what to do while on the accident scene. The students on the bus were seated at the time of the impact, as is expected, and that prevented anyone else from being thrown by the impact. 

“We are reminding ourselves internally how important it is to stay seated in the bus,” Reksten said. 

Bus drivers have complained recently about drivers speeding and passing on Highway 35’s narrow, slower, no-margin-for-error roadway. Reksten said it’s always good to remind others to slow down for the buses. 

“With drivers driving the highways, when you see those double red lights you need to go out and stop,” Reksten said. 

The school is currently renting a bus from a Libby company because the damaged bus was totaled. The driver’s vehicle was also totaled. It is expected that insurance claims will not be settled until after the current school year, meaning the district will have to rent for the remainder of the year. 

Fellows was booked into the Lake County Jail the night of the crash after being treated at the hospital. He pleaded not guilty the day after the crash and $10,000 bond was set. He posted bail and was released. He is being represented by the public defender’s office. 

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