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Man sentenced to 10 days in jail for Bemidji school bus crash

BEMIDJI, Minn. — The Tennessee man who police say caused a May school bus crash the injured multiple children was sentenced to 10 days in jail Friday, Nov. 17.

Thomas Lee Nielsen, 30, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was charged with careless driving May 5, two days after he ran a stop sign at the intersection of Irvine Avenue Northwest and South Movil Lake Road and hit the bus. The collision caused the bus driver to lose control and swerve onto the soft shoulder of Irvine Avenue, where the bus rolled on its side in the ditch.

Multiple elementary-aged children were hurt in the crash. A 10-year-old Red Lake girl lost the use of a kidney, according to her mother, and another girl required plastic surgery to repair a large facial laceration.

Nielsen pleaded guilty to careless driving, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced Friday. Court records show that at least three people submitted victim impact statements.

Nielsen was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 80 of which were stayed, meaning that he will not have to serve that time unless he violates conditions of his probation. He was booked into the jail on Friday.

Grace Pastoor

Grace Pastoor covers crime, courts and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. Contact her at (218) 333-9796 or

(218) 333-9796